Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member J.D. Loudermilk passed away yesterday at the age of 82 due to complications from bone cancer.
For the past 60 years, Loudermilk played a significant role in the music industry. He is responsible for several hit songs, including “Indian Reservation,” “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” and “Tobacco Road,” which has become a standard in American music.
Over the years, Loudermilk worked with some of the best artists in the business. Singers that helped bring his songs to the limelight included Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, Glen Campbell Linda Ronstadt, George Hamilton IV, David Lee Roth and more.
After hearing of his passing, Loudermilk’s good friend Bobby Braddock took to Facebook. “John D. left an incredible trail of mega-hits over several decades, going back to the 1950s,” he wrote, “His uncommon brain was filled with amazing words and powerful music – or vice versa.”
He went on to add that Loudermilk was a “bigger-than-life North Carolinian with the soft, friendly voice.”
As a young man growing up in Durham, N.C., Loudermilk held a number of odd jobs. Along with working as a door-to-door Bible salesman, he also spent time as a bulldozer operator and a grocery bagger. His big break came when he started working at a local TV station during the 1950s. He was in charge of painting the sets and the commercial artwork. During that time, he wrote “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” which went on to become a Top 10 hit for George Hamilton IV.
A few years later, Loudermilk made the move to Nashville, where Chet Atkins snatched him up to work for RCA. Loudermilk’s job was to screen new songs for the label. He also sat in as a session musician and backup vocalist from time to time.
His career really took off in 1959 when he wrote a number of his huge hits. After finding some initial success, he never looked back and went on to become one of the best songwriters the world has ever known. Along the way to greatness, Loudermilk met and married the love of his life, Susan, who was at his side when he took his final breaths.