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PASSINGS: Claude King

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Claude King, 90, a country singer-songwriter who was best known for the 1962 hit "Wolverton Mountain," died early Thursday at his home in Shreveport, La., where his family found him unresponsive in bed.

King was one of the original members of "Louisiana Hayride," the Saturday night radio and TV show on which Elvis Presley got his start and Hank Williams Sr. performed. The show transformed country and western music from 1948 to 1960 — "Hayride's" heyday — with music genres such as hillbilly, western swing, jazz, blues and gospel.

King's hit "Wolverton Mountain," co-written with Merle Kilgore, was about an Arkansas mountain man, Clifton Clowers, who guarded his daughter from suitors.

"It was a story song, with a sense of humor, and it was an instant hit," said Maggie Warwick, owner of the "Louisiana Hayride" trademark and its production company.

Warwick said King was known for his guitar-playing skills and knack for writing songs.

"He had a gift for melody and lyrics that was very definable," Warwick said. "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."

King's other country hits included "Sheepskin Valley," "Building a Bridge," "Hey Lucille!" "Big River, Big Man," "I've Got the World by the Tail," "Catch a Little Raindrop," "All for the Love of a Girl" and "The Comancheros," which was inspired by the John Wayne movie of the same name.

King was born Feb. 5, 1923, in Keithville, La. He served in the Navy during World War II.

— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

news.obits@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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