Wednesday, February 6, 2013

RIP Merle Kilgore: Starday artist, songwriter, and A&R man

Today's post is to honor the great Merle Kilgore, who passed away this day in 2005. Of course, Merle wrote Johnny Horton's 'Johnny Reb,' Claude King's 'Wolverton Mountain,' and co-wrote Johnny Cash's legendary 'Ring of Fire,' among other country music hits, but he also wrote several hits for Starday in the mid '60s including Frankie Miller's 'Baby Rocked Her Dolly' and Merle's own 'Dear Mama.' In 1963 Kilgore went into the Starday Sound Studios and recorded one LP for Starday. As Kilgore told me back in 2003, "I was on Mercury for a couple years and I left Mercury and got on Columbia Records. Shelby let me off Mercury and Don Pierce said, "Listen, why don’t you come in and do an album for us since your between labels?" I said, "That’s a great idea. So I went in and cut an album on Starday, There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills [SLP 251]... I really love that Starday album I did. I did a song Johnny Cash told me to do. I was working with him too. And he found a song for me about President Lincoln, 'Who Shot Mr. Lincoln’ ['The Death of Abraham Lincoln']. It’s pretty neat."

Merle, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me and share memories about your Starday recordings and your days working for Starday in the A&R department. Rest In Peace!

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