John Lee Pettimore III

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John Lee Pettimore III's Geni Profile

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John Lee Pettimore

Birthplace: Copperhead Road, Mountain City, Johnson County, Tennessee, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Lee Pettimore, Jnr

Managed by: Alex Moes
Last Updated:

About John Lee Pettimore III

The song's narrator is named John Lee Pettimore III, whose father and grandfather were both active in moonshine making and bootlegging in rural Johnson County, Tennessee. Pettimore's grandfather visited town only rarely, in order to buy supplies for a still he had set up in a hollow along Copperhead Road. Pettimore's father hauled the moonshine to Knoxville each week in an old police cruiser he bought at a surplus auction. According to the narrator, a Revenue Man wanted John Sr. "Real Bad" and went up to get him. The lyric " He never come back from Copperhead road" implies either the Revenuer was ambushed and killed by John Sr. or John Sr. was killed. John Jr. himself is killed in a fiery car crash while driving to Knoxville with a weekly shipment.

Pettimore enlists in the Army on his birthday, believing he will soon be drafted ("They draft the white trash first 'round here anyway"), and serves two tours of duty in Vietnam. Once he returns home, he decides to use the Copperhead Road land to grow marijuana, rather than produce moonshine ("I take the seed from Colombia and Mexico"). Having learned a few tricks from the Viet Cong ("I learned a thing or two from Charlie") while fighting overseas, he resolves not to be caught by the DEA, specifically meaning that he has set up booby traps of the kind employed by the Communist enemy.

Copperhead Road was an actual road near Mountain City, Tennessee, although it has since been renamed Copperhead Hollow Road, owing to theft of road signs bearing the song's name. The song also inspired a popular line dance, timed to the same beat, and has been used as the theme music for the Discovery Channel reality series Moonshiners.

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John Lee Pettimore III's Timeline

Mountain City, Johnson County, Tennessee, United States