Thursday, June 21, 2018

Welcome to Peter Clemon's Coventry Music Articles

This Post Remains on top as an introduction to the site. Scroll below for the latest posts.

This Blogspot is part of the Hobo (Coventry Music and Arts Magazine) archive run by Trev Teasdel.

Hobo was a Coventry music magazine c 1973 - 75 and the archives of the magazine and Hobo workshop and the general music scene of the 70's was originally on Vox blogs c 2007 until recently. Vox closed and the site is being redeveloped and rearranged here - it's still in progress so bear with us.

Photos of the Coventry Music Museum run by Pete Chambers
Do visit the museum if you are in Coventry - website

This Blog
This Hobo blogspot in particular  is for Peter Clemons Coventry music Scene articles for the Coventry Telegraph and beyond. Pete Clemons has a huge database of hundreds of gigs in Coventry from the 60's to the present. Both professional acts and local bands. He has had over 100 articles published in the Coventry Telegraph which, on his request, we've collated here and  have linked them with further material from the Hobo magazine archives.

NEW - Coventry Book Launch Documenting the Music and Entertainment Scene of 1970's by Ruth Cherrington. The Dirty Stop Outs Guide 1970's Coventry.
Available in Coventry from Waterstones and HMV or from Amazon UK here 

Hobo magazine and Workshop are well featured in the book as are many of the photos from the Hobo Archive pages here.Both Pete Chambers and Pete Clemons make a good contribution to the book as well.

  • Early posts on here - if you scroll right down - are Pete's Rock of Ages Posts - gigs in Cov through the ages since the early 60's to present.
  • Later posts are about important music venues in the city and their history.
  • Other posts are about Coventry bands from the 60's onwards.

Pete Clemons and Trev Teasdel at  BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire January 2016

Links to the other Hobo Coventry Music Archive sites 
Coventry Music Scene from Hobo - This is the Hub to all the sites below

Hobo - Coventry Music Archives This is the main Blogspot for the Coventry Music Archives from Hobo Magazine with archive material from HoboMagazine and other Coventry music magazines, feature articles and other documentation. This site is still in development.

Coventry Arts Umbrella Club
The archives of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club which was opened in 1955 by the Goons and where some of the Two Tone musicians started out and literary figures like Phillip Larkin and much more. many Coventry bands played the Umbrella in the late 60's and early 70's. It also housed Coventry's first Folk Club.

Coventry Folk Club Scene 1970's  
This is the Hobo site for Coventry's longstanding and thriving Folk and Acoustic scene. It covers both folk archives from the 70's and features on some of the contemporary singer songwriters out there now along with Pete Willow's history of Coventry Folk Scene and pdf versions of  his 70's Folks Magazine 1979 / 80. Top names like Rod Felton, Dave Bennett, Kristy Gallacher, Pauline (Vickers) Black, Roger Williamson, Sean Cannon and many more.

Coventry Gigs 1960 to Present (This blogspot in fact!).

Coventry Discos, Venues, Music shops and Agencies / Studios etc.
A steadily progressing blog for a variety of other aspects of Coventry's music scene - the DJ's, Discos, Venues, Arts fests, record shops, studios, music agencies etc etc..

Coventry Musicians Who's Who 
This blog has an A to Z of Coventry musicians. It's not yet complete (if ever!) but there are many names and their bands on already. I will come back to it when the A to Z of bands is complete and add in names not on. Meanwhile if you are not on it - and you should be - or your friends and their bands or if your info is incorrect - do let us know at

Hobo A to Z of Coventry Bands and Artists
Meanwhile a huge A to Z of Coventry bands and artists can be found (again in development) here

Gary Numan

Gary Numan
by Pete Clemons

Now 60 years old it is good to see Gary Numan back in vogue again. An appearance on the recent ‘for one night only’ remake of the Old Grey Whistle Test drew in a surprising number of positive comments. This up lifting feedback led to a late decision to see him recently at the Warwick Arts Centre which was in support of his latest album ‘Savage’.

One of Gary’s first bands, Tubeway Army, came together during 1977. They signed to the Beggars Banquet label and during 1978 released the singles ‘That’s Too Bad’ and ‘Bombers’. I remember buying these singles because, and it seems strange now I guess, but the attraction was that I noticed on the sleeves that the main man, who had bleached white hair, was called Valerian. Valerian, of course, turned out to be Gary.

Tubeway Army’s debut album was released during November 1978. It came at a time when the initial furore of punk was quietening down. And Gary Numan, apparently, had been a punk rocker and a bit of a loner. However, reading interviews, it turned out that he had not felt comfortable with the punk thing. Also, it seemed he never got caught up in all the drinking and smoking that a lot of us blindly did back then. Gary claims that deep down he was at odds with punk as he didn’t really speak for the people as genre expected. He just wanted to make music.

Gary was though open to musical ideas and it was whilst in the studio that Gary was introduced to a Minimoog keyboard. And this, in turn, gave Gary a realisation as to the power and the depth of sound that was available while in control of such an instrument.

A second album ‘Replicas’, a concept album based around songs about human like androids, was released during April 1979. It was radically different to his previous releases. The music world then exploded on 24 May 1979 when Gary Numan appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, onto the TV screens via Top of the Pops with his band Tubeway Army performing ‘Are Friends Electric’. Here was a guy wearing Max Factor 28 foundation along with eyeliner and creating this huge stir.

It was a sensational look and sound that quickly grabbed the nation’s attention. Comparable, in a way, to which David Bowie had several years earlier. And it was after that Top of the Pops appearance that things escalated at great speed. Both the single ‘Are Friends Electric’ and album ‘Replicas’ hit number one in their respective charts. Gary’s visions were well ahead of their time.

Despite Gary Numan being a member of the Musician Union (you had to be one to appear on TotP) they, as ludicrous as it now seems, tried to ban him and his synthesisers from appearing. There was definitely envy and fear towards the form of electronic music Gary was now pioneering and subsequent vitriol towards him possibly curtailed his career.

By the time of the next single ‘Cars’ the Tubeway Army name had disappeared, and so had Gary’s white hair. It was now jet black. Subsequent record releases were credited to Gary’s name only, as did his next album ‘The Pleasure Principle’, released during September 1979. Additionally, by the time of ‘The Pleasure Principle’ it was not only the band’s that had been removed. There was no sign of any guitars. 

‘Cars’ came about, it seems, after an incident in London where Gary felt threatened and locked himself in his car to avoid a beating. 10 million sales of that particular song followed.

A sold out tour ‘The Touring Principle’ called into Coventry Theatre on 23rd September 1979. For this he was joined by special guest Billy Currie of Ultravox on polymoog, violin and electric piano amongst other instruments. Due to the nature of the set however, and the inclusion of some Tubeway Army songs, guitars were present on stage. I do remember that a good few punks turned up that night. I am not sure if they had done their homework on Gary and the fact he had changed his style. But there was a definite hostility in the air. And I do seem to recall some minor tensions amongst the attendees.

It wasn’t as though Gary Numan had invented electronic music. He definitely did not. But he certainly brought it to a wider audience. U.K. based bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (who supported Gary at the Coventry Theatre), The Human League, Ultravox and others before them were all playing electronic music, long before Gary, that had been inspired by the German music scene that sprang up in the late 1960s.

But what Tubeway Army had done was appear to slip in on the blind side of a lot of the music listening public. Plus Gary became a pin up boy for the genre. John Foxx who, at the time of ‘Replicas’ release was still a member of Ultravox, described Numan’s brand of electronic music, at that time, as ‘perfect’.

After the success of Gary Numan, and I am not saying that it was a result of it, bands such as Human League and Ultravox began to reinvent themselves as the music decade of the 1980s began. Looking back now, what Gary brought was a game changer and I now kind of realise what a turning point that ‘Pleasure Principle’ tour had been and how hugely lucky I was to see that gig at Coventry Theatre.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

You Can Sometimes Get What You Want - Review of the Rolling Stones and Specials Concert by Pete Chambers

MUSIC MATTERS: You can sometimes get what you want.

Review and Photos by Pete Chambers BEM

You can sometimes get what you want.

You wait for a iconic band and two come along together.

Well that was the scenario last Saturday when Coventry welcomed not just the Rolling Stones, but our very own Specials.

The Specials, never fail to excite, though being the warm up to ‘The greatest rock n roll band In the world’ is no easy feat, especially in such a cavernous space. However this was our 2-Tone band in our 2-Tone city. Of course they got a huge reception, and you can bet Gangster, Rudy, The Man at C&A and the Monkey Man all worked for the rat race and did the dog at the Nite Klub.

Then came The Stones. It seemed like most of Coventry had turned out, but what a night, what a spectacle.

Mick had obviously took a crash course in Coventry history, and his comments about Jimmy Hill, pie and a pint, The Sky Blues, The Matrix all hit the mark.

They may be a massive band headed up by a knight, but they are still in touch with their audiences. I admit I was whooping at all the Coventry references, especially the City of Culture 2021 ones, oh and “The jewel in the West Midlands”.

They will always be expected to play ‘The Hits’ at every gig, but they do it like it’s the first time that song has had an airing.

‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Midnight Rambler’, ‘Miss You’, ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Brown Sugar’ and of course the incredible ‘Gimme Shelter’ all sounded fresh as can be and played by a band that actually wanted to play them.

I was backstage very briefly, and there you can see what goes in to the staging of such a show and all the people involved.

I personally want to thank the Stones people for looking after myself and my wife so well. Some old rockers once sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, well I wanted to see a band who were beyond iconic perform their greatest body of work.

I wanted to see a proud city embrace them, like only Cov kids can, I wanted to come away knowing I had witnessed some music history.

Well tonight, guess we all got what we wanted, and Coventry will probably never be quite the same, and us rockers will talk forever about this special night.

‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’

I love seminal moments, early stages of a project, when ideas you have been holding close to your chest suddenly become public, and there is no turning back.

One such seminal moment was the press launch at Coventry’s Empire for the forthcoming play ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’.

The play is a gritty musical using songs from The Enemy’s first album (still the area’s only chart topping album). The play is written by the very talented Geoff Thompson with (Enemy lead singer) Tom Clarke as Musical Director and Artistic Direction by Hamish Glen.

It’s a project made in heaven and it’s inspiring to see Tom take on a brand new challenge like this, and I can’t wait to see who will be cast in the lead role.

Tom Clake said: “Part of the reason I’m so excited to be involved is because one of the main themes is overcoming anxiety, and that’s something I’ve gone through myself.”

Of course not too much was given away on the day, but we now know that our lead character is musician Argy and he is part of some clever subtext that refreshingly takes the story out of the expected rock n roll damnation scenario.

The sort of clever mind games you would expect from the calibre of Geoff Thompson. Watch this space as things unfold.

We’ll Live & Die in These Towns runs at the Belgrade Theatre September 29 – October 30. Look out for ticket details coming soon!

The Specials Do the Dog - Ricoh - Coventry 2018

The Rolling Stones at the Ricoh

Friday, June 8, 2018

Traitor or Devil? : Could Coventry Duo, Sue and Mary, Have Influenced the Presley Hit, Devil in Disguise?

 Traitor or Devil? : Could Coventry Duo, Sue and Mary, Have Influenced the Presley Hit, Devil in Disguise?

In 1962, weeks before the Beatles released Love Me Do and months before Elvis released Devil in Disguise, two Coventry schoolgirls, Sue and Mary, aged 13, wrote, recorded and released a single on Decca called 'Traitor in Disguise'. Could these girls have influenced the writing of the King's hit?

By Trev Teasdel

Traitor in Disguise - Sue and Mary Decca 1962

Sue and Mary - The Story

Pete Chambers, Coventry music historian and Director of the Coventry Music Museum, has documented the amazing story about Sue and Mary, in his books and Coventry Telegraph Backbeat column and has since located and interviewed them as part of the Coventry Music Museum's lottery funded Sounding Off sessions. 

(Links to Pete's Coventry Telegraph Backbeat articles on Sue and Mary can be found at the foot of this article).

Pete tells us "The story goes they (Sue McGowan / Greasly and Mary McGlynn) had written a song and were playfully singing it in the playground. A teacher (Mrs Broadbent) got to hear it and inquired about the catchy tune, believing it to be a song from the current hit parade. Once the teacher discovered it was a song the girls had written themselves, she set about finding someone to take it to the next level. The girls were signed to Decca and in 1962 the single Traitor In Disguise was released."

The girls who were pupils of Coventry's Catholic school - Cardinal Wiseman, were put in touch with Bert Weedon, the popular guitarist, who in the 60's had a second home in Allesley, Coventry. Bert suggested they send a tape of the song to KPM Keith-Prowse-Maurice, music publishers in Denmark street, London and Sue and Mary still have the letter from Bert!

The girls were signed to Decca and the single Traitor in Disguise b/w I Love You (Oh Yes I Do) was released on September 21st 1962, weeks before the release of the Beatles first single Love Me Do on October 5th. It was a catchy tune and as Pete Chambers says, it was the first 'beat' single to come out of Coventry! Frank Ifield was the first Coventry born artist to make a record (1960) and have a hit and Johnny B Great was the first Coventry band to make a single (1963) but Sue and Mary were the first non-solo act to make a record before the world went crazy for Merseybeat. Love Me Do entered the UK singles chart for one week only and the rest is history but Sue and Mary's worthy record didn't chart and the duo were more or less forgotten!

Sue & Mary - I Love You, Oh Yes I Do - 1962 B side

Plans to produce the follow up single Teenage Dreamer b/w Panda (A Christmas song) were soon dropped. 

Pete Chambers Interviews Sue and Mary 2015
Here are a couple of videos, that deserve to be seen by more people, of Pete Chambers interviewing Sue and Mary at one of the Sounding Off sessions at the Coventry music Museum in 2015.This was the first time the ladies had seen each other for a very long time and they tell the story in their own words.

Video One is Pete Chambers talking to Mary McGlynn at the Coventry Music Museum in 2015 before Sue turned up - You will have to click this link to view it as I was unable to embed the video here

Video Two is a continuation but with Sue on board..


The Wiki entry for the year 1962 below tells us that on September 21st 1962 Sue and Mary were one jump ahead of the Beatles at this stage and writing their own songs.

September 21 – "New Musical Express, the British music magazine, publishes a story about two 13-year-old schoolgirls, Sue and Mary, releasing a disc on Decca and adds "A Liverpool group, The Beatles, have recorded 'Love Me Do' for Parlophone Records, set for October 5 release."

Could 'Traitor in Disguise' have influenced writers of Presley's 'Devil in Disguise'?

It's lofty thought, but on hearing the story for the first time, many might presume the opposite, that the girls had heard the Presley song and been influenced by it instead! Not so, if you look at the dates, these girls were writing their songs in 1962 and the record was released on 21st September 1962, to radio and TV play and publicity articles in the music press.

Devil in Disguise was recorded by Presley 26th May 1963 at RCA Nashville while recording songs for an album (For the Asking) not released until the 1990's although the songs were released as singles or fillers for film soundtracks. 

Devil in Disguise was  released on 28th June reaching No 2 on NME charts and No1 according to the Official Charts. Even if the song was written long before, no one would have heard it until it's release in 1963.

It was penned by one of the song writing teams that regularly produced plot songs for Elvis's films, but also produced none-film material for his albums or singles, as is the case with Devil in Disguise.
The New York based songwriting team Giant, Baum and Kaye, ie Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye were based in the Brill Building, Broadway, America's Tin Pan Alley. They wrote songs for many acts, together, alone or in other combinations. Florence Kaye, the lyricist, was credited on over 40 Elvis songs, mostly for films but including none film songs like Power of My Love and Devil in Disguise.

 They would take their cue from the Elvis script "The script might say "Elvis is attracted to two women and can't chose between them and so we wrote One Boy Two Little Girls"

Songwriter Bill Giant's demo for Devil in Disguise - from the King's Court

Traitor in Disguise on the other hand was published by KPM - Keith-Prowse-Maurice, music
publishers in Denmark street and the musical director was Charles Blackwell  (pictured here) who started working as an arranger with record producer Joe Meek at the age of eighteen, and became one of the most prolific studio arrangers and record producers of the 1960s and 1970s, with a string of hit records to his credit . His hits include Johnny Remember Me by John LeytonWhat’s New Pussycat, I'll Never Fall In Love Again by Tom Jones; and Release Me, A Man Without Love by Engelbert Humperdinck, Hold Me P.J. Proby.
Sue and Mary's title sounds quite original for the time.

It's hard to think that the New York songwriters would get to hear an obscure record from England that wasn't a hit, although the song was played on radio and TV, and you never know the interconnections and cross influences in the music business, but there's no evidence I've come across to suggest Giant, Baum and Kaye ever heard the Sue and Mary track.

It's certainly not a rip off - the titles are similarly framed figuratively but song titles aren't usually copyright (unless they are particularly distinctive or unique) (See here) and the lyric is different although both treat the same subject - the cheating lover "Blue eyes - you're a traitor (traitor, traitor)" as opposed to "You look like an angel, talk like an angel, but I got wise, you're the devil in disguise". It's an age old theme and the music is different of course.

So maybe it's just a case of 'great minds think alike'. 

'Devil in Disguise' sounds like it might have been a well worn phrase anyway and Sue and Mary possibly just substituted 'traitor' for 'devil' - it amounts to the same thing really - the 'traitor or 'cheat' can be viewed as a kind of devil. The phrase has certainly gained popular parlance since the Presley hit of 1963 but can that phrase be evidenced in that exact form before those two songs? 

I had several people searching for the exact phrase but nothing concrete came up on the web-searches or in The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable or the Dictionary of Catch Phrases, but  what we did find, and it makes sense, was that the concept is clearly a biblical one and the nearest (and it's pretty damn near) is from Corinthians - There are many quotes but these are the nearest -

"Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light! ... The devil makes himself look like an angel of light. ... 2 Corinthians 11:132 Corinthians 11:15."

and Corinthians 11:14, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

The concept of the devil in Christianity is of a fallen angel who rebelled against god and also as a serpent in the Garden of Eden but the common image of the devil as a horned being with a pitchfork or trident is a medieval image derived from pagan gods like Poseidon, Pan, Dionysus. None of these images seem to be based on biblical materials, as Satan's physical appearance is never described in the Bible or any other religious text. (see here)

Clearly though, the teachings of Christianity must be the source of the metaphor for both songs; Sue and Mary went to a Catholic school and Giant, Baum and Kaye would be exposed to biblical teachings too.

Many stock phrases come from or via Shakespeare and we searched here too -

The play Othello by William Shakespeare is based on an Italian story in Giraldi Cinthio's Hecatommithi (Groliers). "In this play we encounter Iago, one of Shakespeare's most evil characters. Iago is an ensign in Othello's army and is jealous of Cassio's promotion to Lieutenant. Through deception and appearance, we see unfolded a plethora of lies and clever schemes... Iago describes how Satan uses the appearance of something good to disguise the various temptations that we know are evil. He then tells how he will do the same..." Here

And in Hamlet Act 2 "Maybe the devil, and the devil hath power,
T'assume a pleasing shape.-"  here

but again the concept of a Devil in Disguise stems from the bible, through Shakespeare but still not the exact song title phrase.

My friend, Ann Wainwright interestingly drew my attention to a song written in 1940 that is more directly in the same form as the other  two songs and could have inspired the New York writers more directly, especially as the team were writing songs for movies, and it's possible the girls had seen the film from which the song came from too - 

The song is called Angel in Disguise. This is of course a much older and different song to the 1998 song by Brandy

"Angel In Disguise" was a 1940 pop hit from the Warner Bros. movie It All Came True with music by Paul Mann and Stefan WeiƟ and lyrics by Kim Gannon. It was sung in the movie by Ann Sheridan.

The tune became a staple of the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes shorts, including appearances in 1942's The Wabbit Who Came to Supper, 1943's Yankee Doodle Daffy, and 1948's Back Alley Oproar.

Angel in Disguise - Ann Sheridan – from movie It All Came True

There's also probably quite a genre of songs that pick up on angels and devils - Earth Angel by The Penguins 1955 comes to mind. The title is an oxymoron (a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction) that inspired Paul Simon's oxymoron title The Sound of Silence. Presley did a cover of this on a home recording in his army days while living in Bad Nauheim, GermanyThe song Angel from his film Follow that Dream 1962 by songwriters Roy C. Bennett, Sid Tepper seems to be based on the concept of Earth Angel but without the oxymoron title!

But even older, in American literature -
The title Angel in Disguise goes back to 1851 T.S. Arthur's 
An Angel in Disguise (1851) which was featured in his collection, After a Shadow and Other
Stories. Timothy Shay Arthur (June 6, 1809 – March 6, 1885) was a popular 19th-century American author, most famous for his temperance novel, Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There (1854). His novel, which demonized alcohol and the evils of over-consumption, held great sway over the American public and moved the temperance movement further ahead. He wrote a large number of short stories, which were printed in Godey's Lady's Book -- the most popular antebellum era magazine in America.

TS Arthur

Later on we had Judy in Disguise (with glasses) of course by John Fred and his Playboys, a kind of pastiche of Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds), a devil of a song but that was later on!

But back to Sue and Mary -
It's quite possible, from a songwriting point of view, that Sue and Mary's title came via the search for a rhyme rather than starting out with that title or concept. The song could just as easily be called 'Blue eyes'. They may have just been looking for a rhyme for Blue Eyes and come up with disguise as a rhyme solution rather than a title concept and got the title from that!

"Hey there blue eyes (hey there blue eyes)
You're a traitor (traitor traitor)
In disguise (in disguise)."

Whatever the origin or method of the titles, Sue and Mary's song was a great lost single, and if they had had a Brian Epstein to buy crates of the single to get it into the charts for one week, as had been suggested about Love Me Do, Sue and Mary's story may have been very, very different! Give the song another listen- it deserves it!

Thanks to Pete Clemons, Ann Wainwright and Margaret Weir for feedback and searches.

And thanks to Pete Chambers for getting the story documented at the Coventry Music Museum. The story deserves a wider audience and I agree with whoever said the museum should get them back in the studio, especially as there is now a Coventry label - Alternative Sounds.

Check these Pete Chambers articles on Sue and Mary from the Coventry Telegraph -

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Frank Ifield - Tobacco Road 1961 and the story behind the song.

Frank Ifield  - Tobacco Road 1961
by Trev Teasdel

Coventry born Frank Ifield recorded a cover of JD Loudermilk's Tobacco Road  in 1961, long before Micky Most produced the Nashville Teens hit version in 1964!

Frank Ifield, born in Coundon, Coventry 30 November 1937, to Australian parents. Ifield emigrated to Dural, 50 km (31 mi) from Sydney, with his parents in 1946. At the age of 13 he recorded "Did You See My Daddy Over There?", and by 19 was the No. 1 recording star in Australia and New Zealand. He returned to the UK in 1959 after being demobbed from his National Service which had interrupted his musical career.

Frank gained a two-year contract with Norrie Paramor, A&R man for Columbia EMI after appearing on BBC TV. His first single was 'Lucky Devil' in 1960 and it made the lower regions of the UK pop charts and with it came his first major booking - a summer season in the Isle of Jersey with comedians Mike & Bernie Winters.

During the 1960's Frank made about 30 singles, mostly for Columbia with the last two of the decade for Decca.

Frank Ifield verses Elvis and the Beatles.
His first major hit was of course I Remember You in 1962 which topped the charts for seven weeks.  Wayward Wind, in 1963 made him the first UK-based artist to reach No. 1 three times in the UK in succession. The only other person to have done so at that point was Elvis Presley. In 1962 it was usual for Elvis to knock Frank off the top spot (usually after a long run) when his latest single came out but mid 1963 Ifield's Confessin' (That I Love You)  kept Elvis's Devil in Disguise off the top spot (at least in the NME charts in which Devil in Disguise only reached the No2 spot). In the Official Charts UK however, Devil in Disguise did make the No 1 spot. In the NME UK singles chart Ifield's Wayward Wind shared the top spot for one week only with the first Beatle single Please Please Me.

Note - Youtube of  the various versions of Tobacco Road below this article.

Tobacco Road by JD Loudermilk

I was born in a trunk.
Mama died and my daddy got drunk.
Left me here to die alone
In the middle of Tobacco Road.

Growin' up rusty shack,
All I had was hangin' on my back.
Only you know how I loathe
This place called Tobacco Road.

But it's home, the only life I ever known.
Only you know how I loathe Tobacco Road.

Gonna leave, get a job
With the help and the grace from above.
Save some money, get rich and old,
Bring it back to Tobacco Road.

But it's home, the only life I ever known.
Only you know how I loathe Tobacco Road.

Bring that dynamite and a crane,
Blow it up, start all over again.
Build a town, be proud to show.
Gives the name Tobacco Road

Tobacco Road is a blues song written and first recorded by John D. Loudermilk in 1960.
Most people will know the song as a hit by The Nashville Teens and produced by Micky Most in 1964 and an uptempo version many would regard as the best. The Nashville Teens version went to no 6 on the UK chart (No 5 in the NME chart) and No 14 in the US.

However, there were 7 version produced before the Nashville Teens got hold of the song, including John D Loudermilk's own version by Lou Rawls and one by Frank Ifield.

Originally framed as a folk song, Tobacco Road was a semi-autobiographical tale of growing up in Durham, North Carolina. Released on Columbia Records, it was not a hit for Loudermilk, achieving only minor chart success in Australia. His original version was issued in 1960 as the B Side to Midnight Bus. Other artists, however, immediately began recording and performing the song.

Midnight Bus - JD Louderm

In An Avid's Guide to Sixties Songwriters 1999 - 2017, Peter Dunbavan  "The song is partly autobiographical, Tobacco Road being in East Durham where he was raised, but he wasn't 'born in a dump', his 'momma didn't die when he was young',nor did his 'daddy get drunk'.Tobacco Road was Marvin's Alley, a street in East Durham that's now called Morven Place, and in the fifties the alley was a crime haven dominated by prostitution and gambling. It was a road used for rolling hogsheads of Tobacco down to the cigarette factory where JDL worked, and he knew Tobacco Road's reputation."

Loudermilk himself said in American Songwriter Magazine January/February 1988): "I got the idea for writing that song from a road in our town that was called Tobacco Road because it was where they rolled the hogsheads full of Tobacco down to the river to be loaded onto barges. Along that road were a lot of real tough, seedy-type people, and your folks would have just died if they thought you ever went down there."

Marvin's Alley (Morvens Alley) - believed to be the inspiration for the 'Tobacco Road' of the song in East Durham,North Carolina.

Hogsheads of Tobacco

"The English group The Nashville Teens' garage rock / blues rock rendering was a bold effort featuring prominent piano, electric guitar, and bass drum parts and a dual lead vocal. Mickie Most produced it with the same tough-edged-pop feel that he brought to The Animals' hits. "

JD Loudermilk also wrote Indian Reservation, a hit for former Coventry band - The Sorrows' lead singer - Don Fardon, reaching No 2 November 28th 1970.

Frank Ifield's version was the B side of his fifth UK single for Columbia in May 1961, Life is a Holiday. It was one of the early covers of the song but it wasn't a hit wasn't a hit however. The arrangement was by Ken Jones.

Pete Chambers, Director of Coventry Music Museum with Frank Ifield.

Tobacco Road by JD Loudermilk

Frank Ifield Tobacco Road 1961

Lou Rawls Tobacco Road

Nashville Teens Tobacco Road