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 clients 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...
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