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Passings: Claude King (1923 - 2013)

Claude King, who crossed from the country to the pop charts with his tale of Wolverton Mountain, died on Thursday morning at his home in Shreveport, LA at the age of 90.

King was born in Keithville, near Shreveport, and developed loves for sports and music early in his childhood. After attending the University of Idaho on a baseball scholarship, he returned to Shreveport where he became an original member of the Louisiana Hayride.

During the 50's, King wrote music with Buddy Attaway with whom he had played during the 40's. Among their compositions was the song That Heart Belongs to Me which Webb Pierce took to number 1 on the Country chart in 1952

While Claude recorded a few sides for a series of labels, none were successful and he left music in the late-50's to work in construction. It was at the urging of his friend, Johnny Horton, that he returned to the business and signed with Columbia Records in 1961. His first release for the company, Big River, Big Man went to number 7 on the country chart and even crossed over to the lower portion of the Hot 100. His second record, The Comancheros, hit the same numbers.

The third and final single from his debut album would end up being the song for which he is remembered. Wolverton Mountain was written by King and Merle Kilgore and immortalized Kilgore's uncle, Clifton Clowers. The story song hit number 1 for nine weeks on Country, 3 on Adult Contemporary and 6 on the Hot 100.

In total, King had thirty songs hit the country charts of which half made the top 20. Claude continued to record on occasion and do personal appearances but retired from the music business in the mid-80's.

He and his wife, Barbara, had recently celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary.  They had three sons and six grandchildren.