Roger Miller

King of the Road

Song Review by

"King of the Road" was an out-of-the-box smash, a surprising fate for a song about the joys of being a bum. Country singer/songwriter Roger Miller had been scoring crossover hits with self-written novelties like "Dang Me" and "Chug-a-Lug" since switching from RCA Victor to Smash Records in 1964. The easygoing, folkish "King of the Road" was also something of a novelty, but in a warmly engaging, rather than outright humorous, way. Miller was a master of economical wordplay, and he deftly sketched the portrait of a footloose man at the bottom of society with short phrases, even including, for instance, quotations from cheap hotel notices: "no phone, no pool, no pets." He set the lyrics to a gently rolling melody, which he sang in an appropriately offhand, if rhythmic, manner. Released as a single in January 1965, Miller's "King of the Road" shot into the pop Top 40 by its second week in the charts, eventually topping the country and easy listening charts, reaching the pop Top Five, and going gold. At Grammy time, Miller earned nine nominations associated with it and the album that contained it, among them Song of the Year. He walked away with six trophies, among them the award for Best Country & Western Song. (This led some to charge that the Nashville chapter of NARAS was stuffing the ballot box.) Miller's recording may have been definitive, but that didn't keep lots of people from covering it when it became successful. Meanwhile, Jody Miller (no relation) scored a Top Ten country and Top 20 pop hit with her "answer" record, "Queen of the House." Over the years, "King of the Road" has remained familiar. In the 1980s, R.E.M. even stumbled through a take of it that was released as a B-side and turned up on its Dead Letter Office compilation. Randy Travis' revival was a minor country chart entry in 1997.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Golden Hits [Smash] 1965 Mercury Nashville / PolyGram 2:26
King of the Road [Hilltop] 1971 Hilltop
Country Music Classics, Vol. 3 (1965-70) 1984
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:25
Country U.S.A.: 1965 1989
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music, Vol. 3 1991
Various Artists
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 2:26
King of the Road [Laserlight] 1992 Laserlight / Delta Distribution 2:27
The Best of Roger Miller, Vol. 2: King of the Road 1992 Mercury 0:00
King of the Road [Epic] 1992 Epic 0:00
No Image 1993 Pair
Country's Greatest Singer Songwriters 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:25
Country Spotlight 1993 Dominion 2:25
Smash Hits [Laurie] 1993
Various Artists
Laurie
King of the Road [Bear Family] 1994 Bear Family Records 2:28
Dang Me: Hits 1994 Drive Archive 2:27
Hot Stuff Catalog Sampler , Vol. 2 1994
Various Artists
Mercury 2:26
At His Best 1995 Mercury Nashville 2:25
Number One Country Hits: 50's through the 80's 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / PSM 2:29
The 101 Greatest Country Hits [Box] 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:25
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Mercury 2:25
King of the Road [Richmond] 1995 Richmond 2:25
Super Hits 1996 Epic / Sony Music Distribution 2:27
Country Legends [Intersound] 1996
Various Artists
Intersound 2:40
Golden Classics: 22 Classic Tracks 1996 Masters Intercontinental 2:29
Leading Men, Vol. 3: Masters of Style 1996
Various Artists
Polygram
No Image 1996 Critique Records
King of the Road [Kingfisher] 1996 Kingfisher Records 2:29
I Love Country: Hits of the '60s 1997
Various Artists
Priority Records 2:28
The Academy of Country Music's 101 Greatest Country Hits, Vol. 10: Country Roads 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:25
Hot Rod: Hot Rod Cowboys 1997
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 2:28
Legends of the Silver Eagle 1997
Various Artists
Silver Eagle Classics / Silver Eagle Records 2:43
Country Hits [Riviere] 1997
Various Artists
Riviere International Records 2:23
Legends of Country Music: The Best of Austin City 1997
Various Artists
Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 2:14
The Essential Country Classics [Emporio] 1997
Various Artists
Emporio 2:23
Very Best of Country [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:23
Vocal Treasures [Rebound] 1998
Various Artists
Rebound Records 2:28
45's on CD, Vol. 2 (1964-1965) 1998
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / PSM 2:26
Mega Country, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Pmf
More Original Jukebox Hits 1998
Various Artists
Empire Super Doubles 2:25
Ultimate Driving Collection: Countrywide Ride 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 2:26
King of the Road: Greatest Hits and Favorites 1998 Country Stars 2:29
Great Performances: Encore Collection 1998 BMG Special Products 2:29
Classic Country: Country Roots 1998
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:27
Legendary Country Songwriters 1998
Various Artists
Masters 2:28
Golden Hits [Masters] 1998 ITC Masters / Intercontinental Records 2:28
Greatest Hits [Unison] 1999 Unison 2:29
Trucker's Favorite Top 10 Radio Requests 1999
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:26
Hot Rod Box Set 1999
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 2:28
Greatest Hits [Platinum Disc] 1999 Platinum Disc 2:29
Essential Soundtracks 1999
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 2:28
40 Hits: 1965-1969 1999
Various Artists
Millennium Hits (Netherlands) 2:28
Lost & Found 1999
Original Soundtrack
Capitol / EMI Records 2:27
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Roger Miller 1999 MCA 2:28
4 Country Legends 1999
Various Artists
Double Play Records 2:30
Country Music Hall of Fame 1995 1999 King 2:26
Classic Country: 1965-1969 [1 CD] 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:27
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Heartland Productions, Inc. 2:26
Grand Ole Country Collection 2000
Various Artists
Legacy 2:20
The Best of Country 2000 Direct Source 2:30
Country Gold: King of the Road 2000 Direct Source 2:31
Country Pride: Country Style 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:27
The Very Best of Roger Miller 2000 Summit Records 2:27
Dueling Country 2000 Direct Source 2:30
The Best of Country Gold [Direct Source Box Set #2] 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:31
Good Old Country 2000 St. Clair 2:32
Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes 2000
Various Artists
CD Double Play / IRC / Intercontinental Records 2:30
King of the Road [Legend] 2000 Delta Distribution / Legend 2:27
History of Country Music: Country Legends 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:30
Pure Country 2001 Sony Music Distribution
Country Gold [St. Clair] 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:27
Country Funnies 2001
Various Artists
Double Play Records 2:29
Truckin' Country 2001
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:25
Jammin' Oldies: Classic Country 2001
Various Artists
Masters / Intercontinental Records 2:30
Country Heartache [Box Set] 2001
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 2:20
All Music Guide: Cool Country 2001
Various Artists
All Music Guide / Medalist Entertainment 2:29
That's Country [Golden Stars] 2001
Various Artists
Golden Stars 2:27
Diamonds Are Forever 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:24
Country Greats [Columbia River 2002] 2002
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 2:15
Country Classics [Columbia River] 2002
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 2:15
The Number 1 Country Collection 2002
Various Artists
K-Tel / K-Tel Distribution 0:00
The Golden Age of American Rock 'N' Roll: Special Country Edition 2002
Various Artists
Ace 30:45
Home on the Road 2002
Various Artists
King 2:25
Ultimate Country Super Hits [Sony Box Set] 2002
Various Artists
Immediate / Sony Music Distribution 2:27
The Ultimate Classic Country Collection 2002
Various Artists
WEA International 2:26
David Allan Coe Presents Roger Miller 2002 Coe Pop Records 2:31
The Folk Years: Reason to Believe 2002
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:26
Sound of Country 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:29
Pure Country Classics: The #1 Hits 2003
Various Artists
UTV 2:25
Top Hits of the Sixties: Amazing Hits 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:29
All Time Greatest Hits 2003 Mercury Nashville / Mercury 2:30
The Folk Years [Box Set] 2003
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:26
The Lighter Side of Country 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:28
Very Best of Country Legends [Madacy] 2003
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:30
Country Gold [Direct Source 2003 Single Disc] 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:27
Nashville Legends [Readers Digest] 2003
Various Artists
Reader's Digest Music 2:24
Rock and Roll at Fifty: A Galaxy of Hits from Rock's First Decade 2003
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:26
New Hooked on Number Ones Experience 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 1:00
World of Roger Miller 2004 Karussell 2:31
Platinum & Gold Collection 2004 RLG / BMG Heritage / RCA 2:27
Country Greats, Vol. 1 2004
Various Artists
CBUJ Distribution 2:29
The Great Country Collection 2004
Various Artists
Red X 2:27
Country Legends 2004 St. Clair 2:32
Road Trip: Open Road Country 2004
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:29
David Allan Coe Presents...My Favorite Singers, Vol. 2 2004
Various Artists
Coe Pop Records 2:29
King of the Road 2004
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 2:14
Country Barbeque 2005
Various Artists
Lifestyles 2:22
Very Best of Country & Western 2005
Various Artists
Disky Communications 2:25
Top 20 of Country 2005
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:27
Billboard #1s: Classic Country 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 2:28
Greatest Ever! Number 1's: The Definitive Collection 2006
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:27
True Country 2006
Various Artists
Spectrum Music
Ultimate Grammy Collection: Classic Country 2008
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:27
The Only Classic Country Collection You'll Ever Need 2010
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:37
Total Drivetime 2010
Various Artists
Universal 2:26
Golden Age of Country: Waltz Across Texas 2011
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:26
Mad Men: A Musical Companion (1960-1965) 2011
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:26
Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music: 1965 2011
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:29
Absolute Country [AAO] 2014
Various Artists
AAO Music 2:15
Country: Roger Miller 2014 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 2:27
King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller 2018
Various Artists
BMG 3:20
100 Essential 60's
Various Artists
Universal 2:28
100 Essential Hits: 60s
Various Artists
Brunswick / Universal Music 2:25
Best of the 60's, Vol. 3
Various Artists
Polygram
Country Classics Set #1: Vol. 1 - 3
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group
Country Hits, Vol. 1 [Euro Trend]
Various Artists
Euro Trend 2:23
Country Legends [Sony 2013]
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:29
Forever Country [Somerset]
Various Artists
Somerset Entertainment 2:29
No Image
Various Artists
Time / Life Music / WEA
Memories of Roger Miller K-Tel Distribution
The Broons Family Album
Various Artists
EMI 2:27
Time Life: '60s Country
Various Artists
Time Life 2:26
No Image
Various Artists
Total 60s
Various Artists
Universal 2:26
Total Hits, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Universal 2:26
No Image
Various Artists
Razor & Tie