King Of The Road

Album: The Return of Roger Miller (1965)
Charted: 1 4


  • 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.
  • This is the most popular song to mention the state of Maine in the lyric ("destination Bangor, Maine"). A contender for #2 is the 2009 hit "Out Last Night" by Kenny Chesney, where he sings:

    There were girls from Argentina and Arkansas
    Maine, Alabama, and Panama

Comments: 13

  • Brenda Rychkun from Just Outside Of Vancouver Bc CanadaI really really enjoyed this wonderful talented man and he will always be with us through his iconic style and music as all of the wonderful female and male singers that we said good night to over the years. We cannot ever forget them !!!
  • Khan Artsfols from Kitchener, OnA number of us in Kitchener, Ontario would like to authenticate the information from that Mike Douglas episode. How could we do that? Where did you obtain the information?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1965 {February 7th} Roger Miller's "King of the Road" peaked at #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, it remained in the top spot for ten weeks...
    "King of the Road" prevented four other records from peaking at #1:
    "Lemon Tree" by Trini Lopez peaked at #2 for two weeks
    "Red Roses For A Blue Lady" by Bert Kaempfert peaked at #2 for two weeks
    "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey peaked at #2 for four weeks
    "Red Roses For A Blue Lady" by Vic Dana peaked at #2 for one week...
    And Roger Miller's next release would also peak at #2 on the AC Tracks chart, his "Engine Engine #9" peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} on June 30th, 1965, and it took a another 'King' to keep him out of the top spot, Elvis' "Crying In The Chapel" was at #1 for those three weeks...
    Roger Dean Miller passed away at the young age of 56 on October 25th, 1992 {lung and throat cancer}...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Melinda from AustraliaI find it impossible to believe that Roger Miller had no experience of homelessness when he wrote this song. The amount of detail of the life of a hobo in this song is really interesting. It’s a fantastic song. But maybe he’s tellin the truth. He made it up. But I think when he was touring all the time he observed how hobos lived. From a distance. Or he had friends who lived that way for a while. It’s a song of its time. Kind of iconic.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 23rd 1965, Jody Miller performed "Queen of the House" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    Her 'parody song' left Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart four days earlier on June 19th, 1965, it peaked at #12 {for 1 week} on May 30th; it reached #5 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart and #4 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    At the time her next release, "Silver Threads and Golden Needles", was in its first week on the Top 100 at position #94 {she didn't perform the song on 'Shindig!'}...
    Between 1965 and 1979 she had twenty-seven records make the Hot Country Singles chart; six made the Top 10 with "There's A Party Goin' On" being her biggest hit, it peaked at #4 in 1972...
    Interestingly, she had four records peak at #5; besides "Queen of the House" there was "He's So Fine" {1971}, "Baby I'm Yours" {1971}, and "Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home" {1973}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 9th 1965, Roger Miller performed "King of the Road" on the British-TV program 'Ready Steady Go!'...
    Just a little over a month later on May 13th, 1965 it would peak at #1 {for 1 week} on United Kingdom's Record Retailer chart...
    And in the U.S.A. it was at #6 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    {See the next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn 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 from Sauquoit, NyIn 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!!!
  • Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayVery enjoyable to sing as well
  • Adam from Los Angeles, CtOne of many hits this guy had-------very enjoyable to listen to.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesThis 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!
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkThe Proclaimers covered this.
  • Bruce from Modesto, CaYour lyrics: "Old worn out clothes and shoes,"

    The correct lyrics are: "Old worn out suit and shoes,..."
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