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Courtesy OfficialDavidAllanCoe.comDavid Allan Coe, the forefather of outlaw country, was pronounced dead this morning. He was shot to death shortly after finishing his performance at the Galaxy Concert Enormodome and Municipal Spaceport. The shooter remains at large.
Though Coe persistently claimed that his often racist, sexist, homophobic lyrics were only meant to be funny, Orange County Sheriff's Department investigators questioned each gay, black, female and Democrat attending Coe's headlining appearance. All four were later released on their own recognizance.
A trash-talking country crooner, Coe got his start in Nashville in the 1970s, when his songs were performed by Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette and Johnny Paycheck, who topped the charts with Coe's feel-good, anti-establishment anthem "Take This Job and Shove It." But he is more often remembered for his explicit adult recordings—1978's Nothing Sacred and 1982's Underground Album (rereleased in tandem in 1990 as 18 X-Rated Hits)—in which he chastises his woman for running off with an African-American and meditates on the subject of anal intercourse.
For better or worse, Coe's tough reputation and eccentric look sometimes eclipsed his best, most serious work. Born Sept. 6, 1939, in Akron, Ohio, Coe spent nine years in jail, charged with possession of obscene materials and robbery. According to Coe, another prisoner propositioned him during his time behind bars, and he beat the man to death with a mop. Rolling Stone later reported Coe fabricated the incident to generate publicity (and street cred) for the self-proclaimed "long-haired redneck."
But backed by a sighing fiddle and wielding a lonesome cowboy voice and a Flying V guitar emblazoned with the Confederate flag, Coe's raw talent could still overshadow any rumors of penis tattoos or murder stories. His lyrics were at times heartfelt and traditional: "Just look for my name on a jukebox/When you're tired of being alone/Put in a dime, and I'll take the time/To sing you a sad country song."
Still, the unpredictable songwriter was always ready to burst into an explicit original: "You gotta learn how to pick 'em, son, learn how to lick 'em, son/Learn how to stick 'em, son, between the thighs/You gotta try not to beat 'em too much/Try not to teach 'em too much/Try not to feed 'em too much bullshit and lies."
At what turned out to be Coe's last show, a teary-eyed fan told a Weeklyreporter, "Just because he sings about doin' it with Girl Scouts, is that reason enough to shoot the guy? It's one thing to write a song about your woman leaving you for a—hey, can I say the N-word here? But I mean, it's another thing to resort to violence."
Despite Coe's cause of death, his family believes that if he had survived the gunshot wound, he would continue to support the right to bear arms.
DAVID ALLAN COE WITH SHOOTER JENNINGS, KEVIN BANFORD AND THE BAKERSFIELD BOYS, AND RORY JUSTICE AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-0600; www.galaxytheatre.com. SAT., 8 P.M. $23.50. ALL AGES; AND WITH FIT-2-B TIED AND DEDE WOODS AT THE COACH HOUSE, 33157 CAMINO CAPISTRANO, SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, (949) 496-8930; www.thecoachhouse.com. SUN., 7 P.M. $23.50. ALL AGES.