Claude King was a country singer from Louisiana who had one huge hit that crossed over to the pop charts.
He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1933. As a teenager he began to sing at local events. He spent some time working at construction jobs before making his debut on the Louisiana Hayride radio program, of which he was reported to be an orginal member.
He was managed by Tillman Franks, who was also the manager of Claude's mentor, Johnny Horton. Franks secured a recording contract for Claude with Columbia in 1961. Claude King put some hits on the country and pop charts such as The Comancheros and Big River, Big Man in the early 60's.
His biggest of these was a song that had been written by Merle Kilgore titled Wolverton Mountain, with co-writing credits to Claude King. Kilgore was a former Shreveport disk jockey who had had some success as a country singer/songwriter and who became known for writing hit songs for others, such as Johnny Horton's Johnny Reb and later, Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire. Wolverton Mountain is a song about a young man who wanted to climb Wolverton Mountain to gain the heart of a young girl who lived there, but who would face a formidable obstacle in her father, Clifton Clowers. The song is based on an actual person by that name in Arkansas and an actual place. It became a #1 country hit and reached the top ten on the pop charts in the Summer of 1962. There was an answer song, (I'm The Girl On) Wolverton Mountain, released by JoAnn Campbell later the same year.
Claude played a guitar and did some songwriting of his own. Claude King's last entry in the pop top 100 was The Burning Of Atlanta in 1962. He continued with hits on the country charts into the mid-60's, including Sam Hill and Tiger Woman, then faded for a while. He released an album that was a tribute to Johnny Horton and continued releasing country songs throughout the 70's and into the early 80's. Claude had an acting role in the 1982 television miniseries The Blue and the Gray.
He also appeared in the movies Swamp Girl in 1971 and Year Of The Yahoo! in 1972 (in which he played the lead character). Claude returned to appear as himself in the 2004 television film Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues.
He passed away in his sleep at his home in Shreveport on March 7, 2013, at age 90. Claude King is best remembered for his rich voice and his hit song from the Summer of 1962, Wolverton Mountain.
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