David Allan Coe, intriguingly, merits four full paragraphs in Neil A. Hamilton’s history of The 1970s:
“Born in Ohio, Coe spent part of his youth in reform school and, in the 1960s, served time in the Ohio State Penitentiary. Here was a man to whom the term outlaw meant more than a music rebel. In 1967, Coe arrived in Nashville, and to gain attention from the country music establishment, he lived in a hearse that was parked in front of the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Old Opry. Even though the country traditionalists ignored him, he soon signed a contract with an independent label, Plantation Records, and released an album in 1968.
Coe began to perform in a rhinestone suit and sometimes wore a Lone Ranger mask or covered his face in heavy makeup. He called himself the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy. He hung out with motorcycle gangs and would sometimes begin his concerts by driving a Harley onto the stage with a wrench tucked under his belt before singing. He dared anyone who thought him less than tough, told reporters that he had killed a man while in the penitentiary, and laced his commentary on stage and in print with expletives. His long hair and tattooed body completed his outlaw persona.”
Photo courtesy of DavidAllanCoe.com
Did Coe’s pal in the penitentiary – the musically macabre, Screaming Jay Hawkins – inspire the use of the hearse?
Produced by Pete Drake
Two 45s from 1973 — “Keep Them Big Wheels Hummin‘” b/w “Memphis in My Blood” and “How High’s the Watergate Martha” b/w “Tricky Dicky the Only Son of Kung Fu” — would be David Allan Coe’s final singles on Plantation before making the big jump to almighty Columbia.
“Keep Them Big Wheels Hummin'” David Allan Coe 1973
Moon vs. Coe: Cheek-to-Cheek
In 1977 Plantation would issue one final David Allan Coe album that would successfully out-moon Keith Moon’s solo album two years before: