Born Sept. 6, 1939, in Akron, Ohio, David Allan Coe was in and out of reform schools, correction centers and prisons since the age of 9. One of the most fascinating -- and, some would say, dangerous -- figures in the entire history of country music, Coe's unrestrained ego is evident throughout his work. After all, he was not shy in listing himself alongside two undisputed icons when he wrote and recorded the 1976 single, "Willie, Waylon and Me."
While some of the circumstances of Coe's outlaw life are easily substantiated, it's often impossible to unravel all of the stories that have led to his larger myth. According to his publicity campaigns, he spent time on Death Row for killing a fellow inmate who demanded oral sex. After receiving a conflicting account from prison officials, a Rolling Stone magazine reporter questioned Coe about the alleged murder. His musical response was the song, "I'd Like to Kick the Shit Out of You."
Whatever the truth of the matter, Coe was paroled in 1967 and took his songs about prison life to record executive Shelby Singleton, who released two albums on his SSS label. Coe wrote Tanya Tucker's 1974 No. 1 single, "Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)?" and took to calling himself "Davey Coe, the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy" -- performing in a mask and driving a hearse. He satirized the themes of country music with hilarious additions to Steve Goodman's "You Never Even Called Me by My Name" but has often used the clichs himself. His defiant stance and love of motorcycles, multiple tattoos and ultra-long hair made him a natural Nashville outlaw, which he wrote about in the self-glorifying "Longhaired Redneck" and "Willie, Waylon and Me."
In 1978, Johnny Paycheck had a No. 1 country hit with Coe's "Take This Job and Shove It," which inspired a film of the same title in 1981. Coe's own successes included the witty "Divers Do it Deeper" (1978), "Jack Daniels if You Please" (1979), "Now I Lay Me Down to Cheat" (1982) and "The Ride" (1983's song which conjures up a meeting between Coe and Hank Williams). In 1984, Coe reached No. 2 on the country charts with "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile" to mark his highest chart position as a performer.
Recordings with other performers include "Don't Cry Darlin'" and "This Bottle (In My Hand)" with George Jones, "I've Already Cheated on You" with Willie Nelson and "Get A Little Dirt on Your Hands" with Bill Anderson. Coe's 1978 album Human Emotions was about his divorce -- one side being "Happy Side" and the other "Su-i-side." The controversial cover of Texas Moon shows the bare backsides of his band and crew, and he has also released two mail-order albums of explicit songs, Nothing Sacred and Underground.
In 2003, he released CD and DVD versions of Live at Billy Bob's Texas. Coe has frequently mentioned his sessions with Kid Rock and the hard rock band Pantera for a new album expected to be released in 2004.