Outlaw country legend David Allan Coe could sell between 1000 and 2000 tickets if he were to play in San Diego. But, he won’t, says Sulo King, talent buyer for Brick by Brick. Two years ago, King booked Coe to play the Bay Park club. Due to the swift pace of ticket sales, King says that show would have sold out and he may have added a second date.
But King had to cancel the show and refund the cost of tickets when he was told by Coe’s agent that Coe refused to play San Diego.
The agent, Austin-based Rob Devine, admits that he had to cancel the show after he allowed Brick by Brick to put the tickets on sale. Devine says that he didn’t know that San Diego was one of the cities (along with New York and San Francisco) that Coe refused to play because of a longtime promise he made to himself that he would never play in a town that is a home to Hells Angels.
“Back in the day, [Coe] was in a notorious biker gang called the Outlaws,” explains singer-guitarist Ron Houston, who fronts local country band Sickstring Outlaws. “The Hells Angels and the Outlaws were rivals. [Coe] says that, out of respect, he won’t play in a city that has an active Hells Angels chapter.”
Devine says he tried to talk Coe into accepting the Brick date, but he wouldn’t budge.
Houston and his Sickstring Outlaws played with Coe last year at L.A.’s Knitting Factory. Houston says he is trying to arrange a nearby show for Coe outside of San Diego’s city limits.
“If he played in North County or Temecula, the place would sell out,” says Houston. Devine says that he is looking to book a Coe date between August 22 and 26. He says tickets for other shows on the upcoming tour range in price from $15 to $75. He says a local date could be set up, “As long as it is outside the city of San Diego.”
“Everything is fine with the Hells Angels,” says Houston about the longtime embargo. “They don’t care. But it’s still in David’s head that he won’t go into those cities. It’s been that way since 1979 or ’80.”
“David Allan Coe wrote ‘Take This Job and Shove It,’ ” says Houston about Coe, who turns 70 this year. “He is a legend as a songwriter. Growing up, my dad used to tell me that [Coe] killed a guy in prison who came on to him. Actually, Johnny Cash helped get him released. [Coe] wrote ‘If This Ain’t Country I’ll Kiss Your Ass,’ ‘Longhaired Redneck,’ and ‘You Never Call Me by My Name,’ which is the ultimate country song because it mentions prison, getting drunk, a pickup truck, and his mom getting hit by a train. The kids are into him because he sang in Rebel Meets Rebel [in 2001–2002], a group that also had Dimebag Darrell of Pantera.
“When we played with him in L.A., he did [Cash’s] ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ ” says Houston. “At the end of the song, [Coe] pointed up to the ceiling and said, ‘You take good care of yourself, Johnny Cash. I’ll be coming to see you real soon.’