Early Life of Claude King
Singer, songwriter and actor, Claude King became best known by his biggest hit “Wolverton Mountain.” King was born in Keithville located in Southern Caddo Parish North Louisiana.
At an early age, King has expressed interest in several things other than music. He bought his first guitar when he was twelve, yet King devoted most of his time in sports. He then received a baseball scholarship from the University of Idaho. Eventually, King would serve as part of the United States Navy during World War II.
King and the Music Industry
Claude King started his journey in the music industry by forming a band with his friends. “The Rainbow Boys” featured King himself and his two other friends Buddy Attaway and Tillman Franks. The trio could be seen performing in Shreveport during their vacant time for they were also maintaining other jobs rather than performing.
King eventually joined the Louisiana Hayride, a television and radio show that was aired all across the United States and even in the United Kingdom. The shows of Louisiana Hayride were produced in the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. King was featured in programs where the likes of Elvis Presley, Tex Ritter, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis, Slim Whitman, Faron Young, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, George Jones, Tommy Tomlinson, and Lefty Frizzell were featured as well.
After several unsuccessful recordings with Gotham Records, Claude King dedicated more time to his musical career in 1961. In the same year, King signed with the Nashville division of Columbia Records. His career immediately was boosted up with the success that “Big River, Big Man” had achieved peaking at the Top 10 on the country charts and gaining a small pop crossover success in the process.
Inspired by the movie “The Comancheros” by John Wayne, King followed up immediately on his success by releasing a song with the same title of the movie. This gained again a Top 10 song on the country charts for King paralleled by the success he gained in the crossover charts.
The following year in 1962, Claude King released his best-known recording “Wolverton Mountain.” The song was written by Merle Kilgore who had written a bunch of songs and hits during that era. Following its release, the song became a popular hit. Beginning on June 30, 1962, it peaked as the number 1 hit on the Billboard Country Chart where it remained for twenty-six weeks and also was number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Wolverton Mountain” featured the tale of one Clifton Clowers described as one who is mighty handy with a gun and a knife to protect his daughters from potential suitors. It was also said that King and Kilgore agreed that the original composition of the songs lacked being polished. King did the polishing and the song became a hit.
Besides his career in recording and touring, Claude King was featured in several movies as well with his great-nephew, Chris Aable. King became one of the few actors that were a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Some of the movies where King was featured were: “Swamp Guild (1971)” and “Year of the Yahoo (1972).”
Claude King was also honored in 1981 by then Arkansas Governor Frank D. White, which declared August 7 as the “Wolverton Mountain Day.”
In recent years, Claude King was able to release a CD on June 3, 2003, titled “Cowboy In the White House.” This was co-produced with Robin Vosbury and Tillman Franks and released by Sun Records. The album also featured Elvis Presley’s guitarist, James Burton.
Claude King was inducted to the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Walk of Stars on February 11, 2007. He joined celebrities that also had a great tie with the Shreveport area. This included Terry Bradshaw, Eddie Robinson, Johnnie Cochran, Kix Brooks, Tom Jarriel, Joe Ferguson, Hal Sutton, and David Toms, as well as his musical colleagues, James Burton, Jim Reeves, Jimmie Davis, Faron Young, Chris Aable, Elvis Presley, and Tillman Franks.
In 2011, Claude King was one of the personalities named as “Five Living Legends of Shreveport” that was made by Danny Fox of KWKH radio. This included the likes of Bob Griffin of KSLA and KTBS-TV, James Burton, Hank Williams, Jr., and Frank Page who, like King died in 2013.