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David Allan Coe (born September 6, 1939 in Akron, Ohiomarker) is an American country music singer who achieved popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. He has written and performed over 280 original songs throughout his career. As a singer, his biggest hits were "You Never Even Called Me by My Name", "The Ride", and "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile". His best-known compositions are the #1 successes "Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone)" by Tanya Tucker; and "Take this Job and Shove It" by Johnny Paycheck that was later a hit movie (both Coe and Paycheck had minor parts in the film).


David Allan Coe is well known as an "Outlaw" style country and western artist. Many of his songs are of a humorous topic and have lyrics about himself in association with other famous country "Outlaws."

During the 1980s, Coe enjoyed a resurgance in mainstream popularity, twice hitting the top 10 of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart with "The Ride" (1983) and "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile" (1984). "The Ride" recounts a drifter's encounter with the ghost of country music legend Hank Williams. "Mona Lisa" is a mid-tempo ballad about a broken love affair, featuring allusions to the iconic Da Vinci painting. He also just missed the top 10 in early 1985 with "She Used to Love Me a Lot".

Coe's long career has included twenty-six LP, with 1987's Matter of Life... and Death being one of the most successful and critically acclaimed. He even put out a concept album, Compass Point, that threads his autobiography (or that of his persona) through an encounter with the famous Caribbeanmarker studio for which it was named and where it was recorded.

Coe was a featured performer in Heartworn Highways, a 1975 documentary film by James Szalapski. Other performers featured in this film included Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young, Steve Earle, and The Charlie Daniels Band.

Rebel Meets Rebel

Coe sang lead vocals for Rebel Meets Rebel, a country-metal band consisting of Coe and Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul, and Rex Brown from Pantera. The self-titled album was recorded between 2001 and 2002, but was not released until after Darrell's death in 2004.


Coe was in and out of reform schools, correction centers, and prisons from the age of 9. According to his publicity campaigns, he spent time on death row for killing an inmate who demanded oral sex. A public TV documentary produced by KERA Dallas followed Coe back to the prison where he did time. The show ended with a director's note that prison officials could not back up Coe's claims of being on death row. Rolling Stone magazine questioned Coe about the claim in an article titled "Rhinestone Ripoff", putting Coe in a position of having to prove his own guilt. Regardless of the facts, Coe was incarcerated at several prisons, including Ohio State Reformatorymarker in Mansfield OH (not the location of Ohio's death row at the time). He was paroled in 1967 and made his way to Nashville where he embarked on his career, recording for small labels before being signed to Columbia Records.

Coe recorded two albums in 1978 and 1982 containing racist and misogynistic lyrics of extreme vulgarity and racial crudity: Nothing Sacred and Underground Album. Also available is a best of the X-rated albums compilation entitled "18 X-Rated Hits." Coe has defended the songs (such as one deriding an adulterous wife who leaves her white husband and children for a black man) as bawdy fun which never made him much money - as well as pointing out that his drummer at the time, Kerry Brown (son of blues guitarist Gatemouth Brown) is black and married to a white woman. Napster added to the confusion regarding Coe's racist songs by mislabeling offensive works by other artists, especially Johnny Rebel, whose songs are often mistakenly attributed to Coe.

Coe's second album, the psychedelic concept album Requiem for a Harlequin, contains many strong anti-racist and pro-civil rights statements. One track describes the birth of soul music in a celebratory style; others are furious rants against the KKK and what he calls "the asphalt jungle". Another track entitled "Fuck Anita Bryant" rants against Anita Bryant for her opposition to homosexuality.

Coe was a member of the one percenter biker club, Outlaws MC. Very early in his career, Coe was a sideman in the popular Cleveland rock band Eli Radish, founded by Danny Sheridan.



  • Just For The Record...the Autobiography
  • The Book of David
  • Ex-Convict
  • Poems, Prose and Short Stories
  • Psychopath
  • Whoopsy Daisy (audio book)




  • Tucker, Stephen R. (1998). "David Allan Coe". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 102.

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