Friday, March 8, 2013
– Claude King, 90, a member of the Louisiana Hayride, best known for his 1962 hit Wolverton Mountain
, died Thursday.
King was born in Keithville, La. He was more interested in sports than music, but he later joined Louisiana Hayride, a TV and radio show produced in Shreveport and broadcast in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Elvis Presley got his start on the Hayride, which featured many country stars.
King recorded for Gotham Records, producing no hits. By 1961, he signed with Columbia Record, and his career took off. His first 3 songs made the top 10, starting with Big River, Big Man and The Comancheros, a song inspired by a John Wayne movie of the same name. Both got as high as seven on the charts.
His next single was his biggest hit ever, Wolverton Mountain, which was first on the country chart for nine weeks starting in May 1962. The song was written with Nashville writer Merle Kilgore and based on Clifton Clowers, who lived on Woolverton Mountain in Arkansas. Clowers was Kilgore's uncle. The song sold more than 1 million copies.
King had a slew of top 20 hits through 1966, including an American Civil War song, The Burning Of Atlanta, I've Got The World By The Tail, Sheepskin Valley, Building a Bridge and Hey Lucille!
The hits continued in 1964 with Sam Hill, and in 1965, he was back in the top 10 with Tiger Woman, co-written by Kilgore. King continued charting regularly until 1972, although between 1967 and 1972, he had only had 1 song made the top 10, All For the Love of a Girl in 1969, which reached number 9.
King also was an actor, appearing in "Swamp Girl" and Year of the Yahoo" and on TV in the miniseries "The Blue And the Gray."
King celebrated his 67th wedding anniversary last month with his wife, Barbara.