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This was written by John D. Loudermilk, a singer/songwriter who recorded as "Johnny Dee" and wrote "Tobacco Road" for The Nashville Teens and "Ebony Eyes" for The Everly Brothers. The song was first recorded in 1968 by a British singer named Don Fardon, whose version hit #20 in the US and #3 in the UK.
Loudermilk managed to cut ten of his own albums between the years 1961-1979; he hit the charts with ten of his own singles between the years 1957-1967, and had tremendous success writing songs for other artists. Working from Nashville, Tennessee, he also wrote hit songs for the Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Stonewall Jackson, and Sue Thompson. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976.
The song is about the plight of the Cherokee Indians, who in 1791 were displaced from their home in Georgia to a reservation in Oklahoma. Raiders frontman Mark Lindsay, whose ancestry was part Indian, thought that this would be a good song to record. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The group was formerly known as Paul Revere and the Raiders. This song became not just their biggest hit, but the best-selling single for Columbia Records. Isn't it ironic that a song like this, brimming with simmering rage and an implied threat to retake the land for the natives, was written by a white Country songwriter, recorded by a band named after the white European patriots whose colonization of the US took the land from the Cherokees in the first place, and sold by Columbia Records, a company originating as "Columbia Graphophone Company" in the UK?
Mark Lindsay didn't sing lead on this, guitarist Freddy Weller did. Instead, Lindsay produced the single.
The last line of the song was prophetic. The Eastern and Western bands of the Cherokee Nation became one again on April 6, 1984 when the tribes officially reunited at the Red Clay Council Grounds (now a state park) outside Cleveland, Tennessee. (thanks, Scott - Nashville, TN)
In the category of "lists guaranteed to stump you on Trivial Pursuit night," we present the guitarists and bass players of Paul Revere & the Raiders, active at some point since their founding in 1958: Robert White (1958-1961), Richard White (1958-1961), William Hibbard (1958-1961), Ross Allemang (1962-1963), Steve West (1962), Dick Walker (1962-1963), Drake "Kid" Levin (1963-1967), Jim "Harpo" Valley (1966-1967), Phil "Fang" Volk (1965-1967), Mike "Doc" Holliday (1963-1965), Charlie Coe (1963-1968), Keith Allison (1968-1975), Freddy Weller (1967-1973), Jamie Revere (1980-1990).
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
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