November 6

Inspired by Trailers, “King of the Road” by Roger Miller


Inspired by Trailers, “King of the Road” by Roger Miller 1

The title “King of the Road” depicts hoboes and tramps who were also known as the “Knights of the Road.” The song is about a happy hobo lifestyle.

On the website of Roger Miller, it was explained that Miller wrote the song for over 6-week span. It began on 1964 Midwest TV tour. He wrote the first verse when he saw a “Trailers for Sale or Rent” sign on the road outside Chicago. After a few weeks, he bought a statuette of a hobo in Boise, Idaho airport gift shop and stared at it until he had completed the song.

The country singer has given at least one other explanation for how he came up with the song. However, when Miller was the co-host on the Mike Douglas Show, he revealed that the idea for the song came when he was driving in Indiana and saw a sign offering trailers for sale or rent, and it was stuck in his head. “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 where I was staying. I purchased it and took it to my room and wrote the song,” Miller Said.

We have known that there were a sign and a hobo statue, but the origin is still 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. His widow says that she’s not sure and the Kitchener story could very well be true.

To complicate matters more, Nashville lore has it that Miller drew inspiration from the “trailers for sale or rent” sign at Dunn’s Trailer Court.  This was a popular place for aspiring Country singer on a tight budget: Hank Cochran and Willie Nelson both there as well.

The song won the 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.

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