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January 20

Loretta Lynn Is One Proud Grandma Watching Her Grandson Singing “The Joker”

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There’s no doubt about it – country music icon Loretta Lynn‘s talent has been passed down through generations, and the crowd in Salina, Kansas, got to witness it firsthand.

In 2016, Lynn performed in the city at the Stiefel Theatre of Performing Arts. While everyone was expecting a splendid country performance from The Coal Miner’s Daughter, they did not expect her grandson to come out on stage and blow them away with a rock song.

Lynn invites her family members to come out on stage and perform during her concerts from time to time. Though most of her family members lean toward country music, her grandson David Russell decided to join his legendary grandma with a different style in mind.

Russell performed his own take of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker.” Lynn took a seat on stage, allowing Russell to step upfront and center. The proud grandma beamed with pride as her grandson sang, and she couldn’t seem to wipe the smile off of her face.

Of course, the crowd also had a great time with Russell’s performance as they could be heard hooting and hollering for him at various points of his performance. His powerful voice with a unique, raspy sound that translates well to such a style has indeed captured the crowd’s attention.

In addition to his singing skills, it looks like Russell can also play the guitar well. He rocked along on an acoustic during the entire song, while Lynn’s band provided him with a bit of backup support. 

Russell is the son of Loretta Lynn’s youngest daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, who also used to perform with her twin sister in the country music duo called The Lynn. In 2018, Russell released his debut song “Jack & Sally.” Being the proud grandma that she is, Lynn took to social media to gush about Russell’s success and called him the “rocker of the family.”

The Interesting Story Behind David Russell’s Song Choice

Written by Steve Miller with songwriters Eddie Curtis and Ahmet Ertegun, “The Joker” was released by the Steve Miller Band in 1973 from their album of the same name. The song has then topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 1974.

Nearly two decades later, the song reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks after it was used in “Great Deal,” a Hugh Johnson-directed television advertisement for Levi’s, subsequently holding the record for having the longest gap between intercontinental chart-toppers.

Miller revealed the story of the song in his 2012 interview with Mojo: “I got this funny, lazy, sexy little tune,” he recalled, “but it didn’t come together until a party in Novato, north of San Francisco. I sat on the hood of a car under the stars with an acoustic guitar making up lyrics, and ‘I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, ‘I’m a midnight toker’ came out. My chorus!”

The lines “Some people call me the space cowboy” and “Some call me the gangster of love” referred to Miller’s earlier songs, and so did “Maurice” and “the pompatus of love,” which has baffled listeners for some time. The line was actually written after Miller heard the song “The Letter” by The Medallions. In “The Letter,” writer Vernon Green made up the word puppetutes, which meant “a paper-doll erotic fantasy figure.” However, Miller misheard the word and wrote pompatus instead.

“The Joker” was also produced by Miller himself. “Nobody is pushing us around,” he said. Now, Lynn’s grandson David Russell may stand a chance at helping revive interest in the song yet again. Tune in below and watch his impressive performance in front of his proud grandma, country legend Loretta Lynn. 


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David Russell, Loretta Lynn


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