Stifle yourself, Steve Earle. Lower that middle finger, Hank III. Take another hit from that spliff, Willie Nelson. And then all of you step aside. When it comes to insurgency, you guys pale compared to that cantankerous country crooner David Allan Coe. Banished to reform school at age 9, he spent most of the next 20 years doing time. Then he reappeared in the late 1960s, when members of the Nashville establishment were all clean-cut, wearing matching suits, and carefully coiffing their hair. Coe, instead, cultivated an outlaw persona with earrings and tattoos — a hairy, scary image that made the Hell's Angels look like choirboys. After the IRS seized his home in Key West for monies owed, he holed up in a cave until it was sorted out. No presidential appointments for this tax dodger!
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Coe has courted that upstart image in his music, and while he's had few hits on his own, his blue-collar anthems — "Take This Job and Shove It," "Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)," and "You Never Even Called Me by My Name" — mostly topped the charts for other performers. One of the first country acts to tour with a rock band (Grand Funk Railroad, no less) — he's been known to roll onstage on a Harley and pepper the audience with expletives. Rest assured that although he's nearly 70 years old, he's as badass as ever.