Claude King, who is best remembered for his 1962 classic “Wolverton Mountain,” died this morning at his home in Shreveport, LA. King’s eldest son, Duane King, said the singer was found unresponsive in his bed. He was 90.
Born February 5, 1923 in Keithville, LA, King’s first love was no different than other artists of the period. The singer excelled at baseball during his high school years, getting a scholarship offer from the University of Idaho at Moscow.
After college, King returned to Shreveport, and focused on music. He became a cast member of the “Louisiana Hayride,” which was broadcast on local radio station KWKH. He shared the same stage with artists such as George Jones, Elvis Presley, and Jim Reeves. He tried recording for some local labels, but didn’t taste success on the charts until he signed with Columbia Records in 1961.
His first single for the label, “Big River, Big Man,” peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and was the first of 19 top 40 records through 1971. His biggest hit was 1962’s “Wolverton Mountain,” which he co-wrote with Merle Kilgore. The song was based on Kilgore’s real-life uncle, Clifton Clowers and spent nine weeks atop the country songs chart, and peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100.
He had a top 10 with “The Comancheros” in 1961, inspired by the John Wayne film of the same name.
King remained a regular on the charts through 1972, and remained on the Columbia roster through the following year. His final chart appearance came in 1977 with “Cotton Dan,” which peaked at No. 94.
King also had success in front of the cameras. He acted in several feature films, and also was in the 1982 CBS miniseries “The Blue and the Gray.” He is survived by wife Barbara and their children.