John D. Loudermilk, born in Durham, North Carolina, is one of the great songwriters in American music, writing hits in both the pop and country fields.
Born March 31, 1934, John D. Loudermilk grew up in a family who were members of the Salvation Army and he was strongly influenced by church singing. His cousins were The Louvin Brothers, Ira and Charlie Loudermilk who changed their name to Louvin. He began his songwriting career as a teenager when he wrote a poem, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” that he set to music. He worked as a handyman at a local TV station and the owners let him sing the song on the air, which led to George Hamilton IV recording it.
Loudermilk graduated from Campbell College in Buies Creek, North Carolina and recorded for Colonial Records under the name Johnny Dee but when Eddie Cochran had his first hit record with “Sittin’ in the Balcony,” a song written by Loudermilk, his career path was set.
Hit songs he wrote include “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” by George Hamilton IV (1956); “Waterloo” by Stonewall Jackson (1959); “Ebony Eyes” by the Everly Brothers (1961); “Top Forty, News, Weather and Sports” by Mark Dinning (1961); ”Sad Movies (Make Me Cry),” “Norman” and “Paper Tiger” by Sue Thompson (1961 and 1962); “Talk Back Trembling Lips by Johnny Tilloston and Ernie Ashworth (1963); “Tobacco Road” by the Nashville Teens (1964) (there were also hit version of this song by Lou Rawls, David Lee Roth and Edgar Winter); “Thou Shalt Not Steal” by Dick and Dee Dee (1964) (Loudermilk and The Newbeats also had chart hits with this); “This Little Bird” by Marianne Faithful (1965); “Then You Can Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by The Casinos (1967)(this song was also a hit by Eddy Arnold, Glen Campbell, Toby Beau and Neal McCoy); and “Indian Reservation” by Paul Revere and the Raiders (1971) (a portion of that song was on Tim McGraw’s hit “Indian Outlaw” on Curb Records).
“Break My Mind” became a standard with recordings by Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison, Gram Parsons and the Box Tops as well as a chart records by Sammy Davis, Jr. and Bobby Wood. Loudermilk wrote “Bad News,” a popular song for Johnny Cash and composed the instrumental “Windy and Warm” which became a Chet Atkins staple.
John D. Loudermilk wrote several instrumentals for Chet Atkins and during the period 1961-1970 and recorded seven albums for RCA, all produced by Chet Atkins. In 1971 recorded an album for Warner Brothers.
John D. Loudermilk is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.