(born September 5, 1939 in Akron, Ohio) is an American country music singer who achieved popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. He has written and performed over 280 original songs throughout his career. As a songwriter, his best-known compositions are "Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone)," originally recorded by Tanya Tucker, and "Take this Job and Shove It." The latter was a #1 success for Johnny Paycheck, and it was later turned into a hit movie (both Coe and Paycheck had minor parts in the film).
Coe was in and out of reform schools, correction centers and prisons from the age of 9. According to his publicity campaigns, he spent time on death row for killing an inmate who demanded anal sex. After receiving a conflicting account from prison officials, a Rolling Stone magazine reporter questioned Coe about the claim. In any event, he was incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield OH (not the location of Ohio's death row at the time) and was paroled in 1967.
Coe recorded two albums in 1978 and 1982 containing racist and misogynistic lyrics of extreme vulgarity and racial crudity: "Nothing Sacred" and "Underground Album." Also available is a best of the X-rated albums compilation entitled "18 X-Rated Hits." Coe has defended the songs (such as one deriding an adulterous wife who leaves her white husband and children for a black man as a "Nigger Fucker" in a song of that name) as bawdy fun which never made him much money - as well as pointing out that his drummer at the time was black. This has also led to confusion regarding offensive works by other artists, especially Johnny Rebel, whose songs are often mistakenly attributed to Coe.
Coe's second album, the psychedelic concept album Requiem for a Harlequin, contains many strong anti-racist and pro-civil rights statements. One track describes the birth of soul music in a celebratory style; others are furious rants against the KKK and what he calls "the asphalt jungle". Another track entitled "Fuck Anita Bryant" rants against Anita Bryant for her opposition to homosexuality.
Coe was a member of the 1 percenter biker club, Outlaws MC.
Coe was a featured performer in Heartworn Highways, a 1975 documentary film by James Szalapski. Other performers featured in this film included Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young, Steve Earle, and The Charlie Daniels Band.
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