Country singer-songwriter Claude King, best known for his 1962 hit "Wolverton Mountain" along with the original members of "Louisiana Hayride," has died. He was 90.
King was one of the original members of the Louisiana Hayride, the Saturday-night show where Elvis Presley also got his start. The show transformed country and western music from 1948 to 1960 with music genres including hillbilly, Western swing, jazz, blues, and gospel, according to the Associated Press.
King's son, Duane, said his father was found unresponsive at his home early Thursday morning in Shreveport, La.
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King's famous song "Wolverton Mountain" was about a mountain man named Clifton Clowers who guarded his daughter from suitors.
"Claude was a legend in the Louisiana music industry, one of the greatest songwriters, and a wonderful friend," Maggie Warwick, owner of the Louisiana Hayride trademark and the production company, Louisiana Hayride Co., told the AP. "Claude and Tillman Franks were on the Hayride from the very beginning."
Last month, King celebrated his 67th wedding anniversary to his wife, Barbara. Barbara survives King along with their children.
Born February 5, 1923 in Keithville, LA, King attended the University of Idaho on scholarship.
After college, he returned to Shreveport, to focus on music. He became a cast member of the "Louisiana Hayride," which was broadcast on local radio station KWKH, with greats like Presley, George Jones, and Jim Reeves
. He tried recording for some local labels, but didn't have much success until he signed with Columbia Records in 1961, Billboard.com reports.
His first single was "Big River, Big Man," which peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, and was the first of 19 top 40 records through 1971, and soon after he became a household name with "Wolverton Mountain." Other hits include "Sam Hill," "Tiger Woman," and "All for the Love of a Girl."
King remained a fixture on the charts for more than a decade. His final hit came in 1977, with "Cotton Dan," which peaked at No. 94 on the charts.
Warwick said King's distinct guitar-playing skills and knack for writing songs made him a legend.
"He had a gift for melody and lyrics that was very definable," Warwick told the AP. "The range and melody and the feeling that goes with his songs, when you hear it, it's very unique and identifiable with Claude King. He had a personal style that was all his own."
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