Merle Kilgore

Country Vocals, Guitar, Manager Hank Williams, Jr.

Born: Aug. 9, 1934 Chickasha, OK

Lived in Cullman, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

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Wyatt Merle Kilgore (August 9, 1934 – February 6, 2005) was an American singer, songwriter, and manager.

Although born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, Merle Kilgore was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. As a boy of 14 he carried the guitar for Hank Williams at the Louisiana Hayride beginning a close relationship with the Williams family that would last three generations.

Kilgore went on to a career as a country music recording artist but had great success as a songwriter, co-writing with June Carter Cash the song Ring of Fire, first recorded by her sister Anita Carter and later by June's future husband, Johnny Cash (Kilgore was a distant cousin of the Carter sisters through their maternal grandmother, Margaret Kilgore Addington). He also wrote Claude King's big crossover hit, Wolverton Mountain. Amongst others, he also penned "Johnny Reb" for Johnny Horton and the Tommy Roe pop music hit, The Folk Singer. In the early 1960s, he toured with Cash as part of his package show.


A resident of Paris, Tennessee, since 1986, he was also a prominent member of the business community. On April 7, 1986, he was named Executive Vice President and head of management of Hank Williams Jr. Enterprises. In addition to managing Hank Williams Jr's career (along with that of Hank Jr’s Bama Band), Merle managed a number of other artists from his Nashville, In office. Merle also had a number of successful business ventures and held numerous leadership positions. Merle’s prominence in the country music community had grown in recent years through his involvement as Vice President of the Country Music Association and he had served on the CMA Board of Directors since 1989. Also contributing to his success was his position as President of both the Nashville Songwriter’s Foundation as well as the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International. In 1987, he was named an honorary State Senator for Tennessee. In 1993, Merle was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in Lafayette, Louisiana, and was also inducted into Shreveport’s Byrd High School Hall of Fame[1]. In 1998, Merle received the Legendary Songwriters' Award from the North American County Music Association. Most recently, he hosted and performed at NSAI's Tin Pan South Legendary Songwriter's Acoustic Concert and was presented a prestigious award honoring him as "one of the world’s outstanding songwriters." Merle had also served two terms as President of ROPE, International (Reunion of Professional Entertainers, Int.).

Merle was a long-time member of the Academy of Country Music and an active member of the Screen Actors Guild. As well as belonging to the NSAI and the American Federation of Musicians, Merle served as a board member for several organizations including the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and the Tex Ritter Museum, both in Carthage, Texas. He also directed the operations of two offices, Hank Williams Jr. Enterprises in Paris, Tennessee and Merle Kilgore Management in Nashville, where he managed several other artists, Joe Sins being his most prominent. In 1998, Kilgore was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2005, Merle Kilgore died from congestive heart failure while receiving treatment for lung cancer, and was interred in Hendersonville Memory Gardens in Hendersonville, Tennessee.



Year Single US Country

1960 "Dear Mama" 12

"Love Has Made You Beautiful" 10

"Getting Old Before My Time" 29

1967 "Fast Talking Louisiana Man" 71

1974 "Montgomery Mable" 95

1982 "Mister Garfield" 54

1984 "Just Out of Reach" 74

1985 "Guilty" 92


1^ Hall of Fame


More info:




Product DetailsProduct DetailsMerle Kilgore - His Very Best, Merle KilgoreLast Kiss and Other Great Country Songs, Arlie DuffIncome Tax Time - Single, Merle KilgoreWhiskey Bent and Hell Bound - Original Classic Hits, Vol. 4, Hank Williams, Jr.
















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