In a year where we already lost a songwriter's songwriter (in Guy Clark), we now must mourn the death of the legendary John D. Loudermilk.
Loudermilk died yesterday (9/21) of bone cancer in Nashville.
Loudermilk was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. His grandfather worked on construction of the chapel at Duke University. His great-great grandparents, Homer and Matilda Loudermilk, were part of the infamous "Trail of Tears," the forced march of Cherokee Indians from their North Carolina home to Oklahoma in 1838. His cousins were Ira and Charlie Louvin.
As part of the "folk revival" in the 1950s, Loudermilk wrote and recorded songs that ranged from silly ("Road Hog," a parody of "Ground Hog" that featured a "county sheriff in my unmarked car" pulling over speeders) to sublime (what may be his best-known song, "Indian Reservation [Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian]," which he wrote after some Eastern Band Cherokee rescued him from his broken-down vehicle on a snowy night in Cherokee and requested that he write a song about them).
Folk singers (the Nashville Teens - "Tobacco Road") country stars (Stonewall Jackson - "Waterloo"), crossover hits (George Hamilton IV -- "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" and "Break My Mind"), early rock and roll (Sue Thompson - "Norman" and "James [Hold the Ladder Steady]"), and even later rock acts (Paul Revere and the Raiders took "Indian Reservation" to #1 in 1971) did John D. Loudermilk songs. His song "Blue Train (of the Heartbreak Line)" won the International Bluegrass Music Association "Song of the Year" in 2003 on the strength of the hit version by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.
Additionally, he had charted songs on both the pop and country charts himself. His biggest pop hit of his own music was "Language of Love," which hit #32 on the charts in 1961. In country, he had two top 40 hits, "Bad News" (later covered by Johnny Cash) and "That Ain't All."
Loudermilk was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1976.
Farewell to the brilliant John D. Loudermilk, who was 82.