Monday, June 07, 2010
Jango Song Of The Day-Claude King
Album:Columbia Country Classics, Vol. 3: Americana
The 1962 top ten pop hit Wolverton Mountain is the most memorable song and biggest hit for Claude King. But he was a staple on the country music charts in the 60s & 70s. He was a protege of the great Johnny Horton. He was born Feb. 5, 1923 in Keithville, LA. near Shreveport. He learned to play guitar as a child but he was mostly interested in baseball and attended the University Of Idaho on a baseball scholarship. When he moved back to Shreveport afterwards, he worked as a construction engineer and played clubs at night. He met Shreveport radio station KWKH executive Tillman Franks and Franks hired him for the Louisiana Hayride radio show. Franks became King's manager and also managed Johnny Horton. King recorded a few singles in the 50s for Gotham and Specialty but was unable to break through on a national level. With the success of storytelling singers like Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton, Columbia Records signed King in 1961. His first single Big River, Big Man was a top ten country hit and so was his second single The Comancheros. But Wolverton Mountain not only topped the country charts but it reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. King wrote the song with veteran songwriter Merle Kilgore (Ring Of Fire). Apparently Clifton Clowers is Kilgore's uncle and did exactly what it says in the song from his mountaintop home in Arkansas. Though Wolverton Mountain was King's only big pop hit, he continued to have a lot of success on the country charts until he left Columbia in 1973. Claude King's recordings are available on a comp from Collectables. I think most fans will only want Wolverton Mountain and this Columbia various artists budget comp is excellent value with some great songs. King has also done some acting most notably in the 1982 TV miniseries The Blue and The Grey. He's been retired for years but returned to recording with the 2003 CD Cowboy In The White House and also a live CD in 2007. Here's Claude King performing Wolverton Mountain on The Johnny Cash Show Sept. 1970.