Registration with

register

lost password recovery

recover my password

sign in

  • If you registered before August, 2014, you will need to register again. Sorry for the inconvenience.
  • remember me
sign in

Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the Newsletter

The Ballad Of Curtis Loew by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Album: Second HelpingReleased: 1974
  • Curtis Loew is not the name of an actual person from Ronnie Van Zant's life. Rather, Curtis Loew is a composite of different people, including Skynyrd lead guitarist Ricky Medlocke's father, Shorty Medlocke. Contrary to the song's lyrics, Shorty was not black. In a 1997 interview on the Lyve From Steel Town album, the band was quoted as jokingly saying "We needed to 'color' the song up." (thanks, Chris - Philly, PA)
  • A Dobro is a resonator guitar with a mechanical amplifier. It was originally released in 1927. Gibson now owns the rights to the Dobro guitar. (thanks, Aaron - Twin Cities, MN)
  • According to Ronnie Van Zant's widow Judy Van Zant Jenness, the unusual spelling of "Loew" was Skynyrd guitarist Ed King's idea. When he was writing the liner notes for the Second Helping album, he decided to name the character after Loew's Theater - thus giving an old Bluesman a Jewish name.
or Register to post comments

Comments: 23

This is my favorite Skynyrd song. My second is "Simple Man". Both with lyrical down-to-earth commentary on variations of the human condition.Lemony - Ooltewah, Tn
"The Ballad of Curtis Lowe" is alsome My brother named his kid Curtis from the song.Joe - Mills River, Nc
I grew up and still live in the same neighborhood as the Van Zant's childhood home..Even tho the Ballad of Curtis Lowe was probably an amalgam of several characters I am always reminded of a real person whom I think could have contributed to this song

There was a store on Normandy Blvd in the same neighborhood called Pic 'N Save. Often outside the store sat an elderly African American blind man. He would sit there for hours playng his guitar and at his feet was his loyal friend, an ancient Bull Dog which was probably his guide dog.
He had a container in which people would place their offerings. Everytime I put money into his cup he would stop , smile and always say "Thank you"

The store, the man and his dog have long departed, but I still think of him everytime I hear the 'Ballad of Curtis Lowe'. I never knew the man's real name. Everyone who frequented the store during that time should remember him

That was in the 70s and those memories seem surreal now, but remain some of the best of my life
Kelly - Jacksonville, Fl
This song is a textbook example of art imitating life all over the South in the rebellious 60's when white teenagers put aside decades of racism because of their love for music. A classic example of this is Greg Allman's story of how he first heard the Blue's when he stumbled upon a 5 and dime market store owned by a black man that was quite literally on "the other side of the tracks".Steve - Alexandria, Va
Yes the song was indeed written about shorty medlocke although it wasnt rickeys father it was his grandfather.Navarre - Akron, Oh
This song is mine and my uncles favorite song... I am naming my first son Curtis, a unique way of naming my son after my Uncle...Jessica - Ohsweken, On
While it is true that Curtis Lowe was not a real person per se, I have long considered that the closest real person to him was none other than the legendary Son House.
Son played a National Steel guitar that was an early type of dobro, and he certainly was known to imbibe on occasion.
House also was already an established bluesman BEFORE Robert Johnson, and he knew him well.
House then disappeared for over thirty years, until Alan Wilson of Canned Heat found him in Rochester, NY in the 1960s and he convinced him to perfom again, which he did, until the 1980s, when first Parkinson's, then Alzheimer's forever silenced both his hands and his field holler voice.
House embodied all that anyone could ever dream about what the blues was REALLY all about.
To me, he was the REAL Curtis Lowe.
Oldpink - New Castle, In
this is one of the best songs ever written! and its under rated! FREEBIRD!Mad - Cincinnati, Oh
Just one comment about the name Curtis Lowe, sometimes spelled Leow. The Skynyrd boys went to high school at the Robert E. Lee high school. In March 2008 I saw a 1968 yearbook from that school for sale on eBay, and there was a kid in it with the name Curtis Lowe. Coincidence? I doubt it. The thing is, that kid is not black. I saw his picture.

The text on eBay says:

UP FOR SALE : 1968 ROBERT E LEE HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK. THE BLUE & GRAY, JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA. COACH SKINNER, THE ALLEN COLLINS BAND FRONTMAN JIMMY DAUGHERTY, AND A "KID" NAMED CURTIS LOWE. AND WHO KNOWS, WHO ELSE, YOU CAN FIND.

AS YOU KNOW, JACKSONVILLE IS WHERE IT ALL STARTED,THE CITY GAVE US SOME OF THE BEST MUSIC AROUND, SKYNYRD, .38 SPECIAL, GRINDERSWITCH, BLACKFOOT, SOME OF THE ROAD CREW FOR THE ALLMAN BROTHERS (for awhile), GRAM PARSONS, MOLLY HATCHET. RACINGS YARBOROUGH FAMILY.

THE YEARBOOK HAS THE SIGNATURES YOU WOULD EXPECT IN A USED YEARBOOK, IN GOOD CONDITION.

CHECK MY STORE FOR MORE SKYNYRD MEMROBILIA
WINNING BIDDER HAS 7 DAYS TA PUT FOLDIN MONEY IN MY POCKET

BOOK WILL SHIP WITHIN 4 DAYS OF PAYMENT RECEIVED

The item number on e-bay was Z110195026387
Bradical - Indianapolis, In
This song eminates from ronnie's voice like his heart is about to rush up and and block his beautifully empathetical tone for love of a "simple man".When I play it on my guitar and sing the words it makes me feel like few other songs can.I have connections to the south ,I have lived there and my mom was from alabama.Most of the time I have lived in northern Ca.,however I do not belive that you have to live in a specific relm m.o. to appriciate the human condition around us all.Wake up and shed your fears so you do not become to stupid to see precious life in front of you.Ronnie seemed to understand that and a fine example would be this masterpiece.Stevie - Earth, Ca
This is probably the most requested song we get on Sat night jams, even though we are playing mostly old Bluegrass, country and Blues. Maybe it has something to do with our location?Travis - Clayton, Nc
The lyrics, and overall story is absolutely amazing. Im not sure this song got all the attention it deserved.Jenna Madsen - Eureka!, Ca
there is any reason to argue about south or not. it's about human influences despite of colors and location after all. lynyrd skynyrd is a far cry from cut and dried opinions. therefor i love emOliver - Hamburg, Germany
Whaddya know about the south, bri-guy, you live in Texas...I may be from SF but I know the difference.John - San Francisco, Ca
Great song, tells a good story. Has a nice flow to it that i can listen to all day.Jenna Madsen - Eureka!, Ca
This song is a little unappreciated for how good it really is!Dalton - Moore, Ok
This is taken from the Website www.skynyrd.Com

The inspiration for Curtis Loew was loosely based around the characters that lived near Ronnie's home on Jacksonville's Westside. The corner store in the song is based on Claude's Midway Grocery on the corner of Plymouth and Lakeshore in Jacksonville. While there wasn't a "real" Curtis Loew, there were many Curtis Loews in the neighborhood. The actual spelling of the name came when Ed was writing the liner notes for the Second Helping album in 1974. He thought it would be funny to name this old Florida black bluesman after the Jewish Loew's Theatre.
Brian - Grand Forks, Nd
she never said she knew anything about the south, she said "southern guitar riffs" you don't have to be from the south to know southern riffs. I try to fit eveyrhting into my musicAlan - London, England
this is a bad ass song and it is one of my favorites..Sam Warren - Morristown, In
jessa, what do you know about the south? you live in canadaBrian - Corpus Christi, Tx
this song is so awesome, tells such a great story. its dripping with dirty southern guitar riffs i just love it.Jessa - Brampton, On, Canada
This is by far my favorite Skynyrd song ever ...Rick - Parts Unknown
Lynyrd Skynyrd actually has the name of the song spelled "The Ballad of Curtis Lowe" on their "All Time Greatest Hits CD, not Curtis Loew.Brian - Corpus Christi, Tx