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King Of The Road

by

Roger Miller



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

The title of this song is an allusion to hoboes and tramps, who were known as "knights of the road." The song tells of the happy hobo lifestyle, with few creature comforts but plenty of freedom.
On Roger Miller's website, it explains that Miller wrote this song over a 6-week span, beginning on a 1964 Midwest TV tour. He wrote the first verse when he saw a "Trailers for Sale or Rent" sign on the road outside Chicago. A few weeks later, he bought a statuette of a hobo in Boise, Idaho airport gift shop and stared at it until he had completed the song.

Miller has given at least one other explanation for how he came up with the song, however. When he was the co-host on the Mike Douglas Show August 11, 1969, he revealed that the idea for "King Of The Road" came when he was driving in Indiana and saw a sign offering trailers for sale or rent, and it stuck in his mind. Said Miller, "I was doing a show in a place you have probably never heard of called Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and I saw a statue of a hobo in a cigar shop were I was staying. I purchased it and took it to my room and wrote the song."

So we know there was a sign and a hobo statue, but where they came from is unclear. Miller would sometimes introduce the song by saying, "Here's a song I wrote on a rainy night in Boise, Idaho," which is much more identifiable for American listeners (especially in Nashville) than Kitchener, Ontario. Miller's widow says that she's not sure, and the Kitchener story could very well be true.
To further complicate matters, Nashville lore has it that Miller drew inspiration from the "Trailers for sale or rent" sign at Dunn's Trailer Court, where he lived when he moved from Amarillo to Nashville with his wife and three kids. This was a popular place for aspiring Country singers on tight budgets: Hank Cochran and Willie Nelson both stayed there as well.
MIller's scribbling of King of the Road now hangs in a shadowbox at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The song won 1965 Grammy awards for Best Contemporary Rock 'N Roll Single, Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Best Country & Western Recording, Best Country Vocal Performance, and Best Country Song.
Roger Miller opened two "King of the Road" Motor Inns in the early '70s - one in Nashville, and another in Valdosta, Georgia. Unlike the cheap digs Miller sings about in his song, however, these Motels were billed as "luxury accommodations" and had a very modern motif. At the Nashville location, a music club on the top floor became a popular spot for many local musicians to perform. Ronnie Milsap played there many times, and Miller would often play as well. See more in Song Images.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Artistfacts
More Roger Miller songs
More songs that won Grammys
More songs about traveling
More songs with chess pieces in the title
More songs about homelessness or desperation

Comments (7):

On March 14th 1965, "King of the Road" by Roger Miller peaked at #4 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had enter the chart on January 24th at position #63 and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 7 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
It reached #1 (for 5 weeks) on March 21st on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
And on February 7th it also peaked at #1 (for 10 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
Was track eight on his second studio album, 'The Return of Roger Miller', and album reached #2 on Billboard's Country Hits album chart and #4 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
One other track from the album also made Billboard's Top 100 chart, "Do-Wacka-Do", it peaked at #31 (on the Country Singles chart it reached #15)...
R.I.P. Roger Dean Miller, Sr. (1936 - 1992).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
In 1965 Jody Miller released an answer record to "King of the Road"; the song was titled "Queen of the House", it peaked at #12. She also won the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Very enjoyable to sing as well
- Budoshi, Sandnessj√łen, Norway
One of many hits this guy had-------very enjoyable to listen to.
- Adam, Los Angeles, CT
This song is very cool. It sounds like a typical Steve Miller song. Maybe Roger Miller and Steve Miller are related in some way. Or maybe one of them tends to be inspired by someone else with the same last name. I mean, think about it: singing about smoking occasionally. I don't smoke and don't plan on it. But it can be fun to sing about. Anyway, long live Roger Miller!
- andrew, birmingham, United States
The Proclaimers covered this.
- Lalah, Wasilla, AK
Your lyrics: "Old worn out clothes and shoes,"

The correct lyrics are: "Old worn out suit and shoes,..."
- bruce, Modesto, CA
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