Claude King Biography

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5 February 1923, on a farm near Keithville, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA. His date of birth has, since 1961, frequently been cited incorrectly owing to promotional material released by his then manager, Tillman Franks, who at the time thought it tactful to lose a decade from his new client’s age. King showed an early interest in music and was a proficient guitarist by the age of 12. He won a sports scholarship to the University of Idaho, intending to pursue an athletic career, but changed his mind and returned to Shreveport to work on The Louisiana Hayride. During the 50s, he played various local venues and took to writing songs. He first recorded for Gotham in 1952, but it was in 1961, after he signed for Columbia Records, that he achieved his first US country and pop chart hits with ‘Big River, Big Man’ and ‘The Comancheros’. In 1962, he teamed with Merle Kilgore to write ‘Wolverton Mountain’. After the song was rejected by Johnny Horton and George Jones, King decided to record it himself and promptly found that he had a million-selling country and pop hit on his hands. During the 60s, King had an impressive list of 23 country chart hits. They included Top 10 successes with ‘The Burning Of Atlanta’, ‘Tiger Woman’ and his version of Johnny Horton’s song ‘All For The Love Of A Girl’. (In 1969, King recorded a tribute album to his great friend Horton.) In the early 70s, he found things more difficult, and his only Top 20 hit came with ‘Mary’s Vineyard’. The total of King’s country chart hits stands at 30, the last being ‘Cotton Dan’ in 1977. During his career he made appearances in several movies includingSwamp Girl, and in 1982, he also acted in the television mini-series The Blue And The Grey.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.