"Wolverton Mountain" was a hit that established Claude King's career as an American countrysinger/songwriter in 1962. The song was a rewrite of the original version by Merle Kilgore, which was based on a real character named Clifton Clowers who lived on the mountain (the mountain's actual name being spelled Woolverton.), north of Morrilton, Arkansas. The song spent nine weeks at the top of the Billboardcountry chart in the US in 1962. It was also a giant crossover hit, reaching number six on the pop chart and numberTHREE on the easy listening chart.
The song's storyline deals with the narrator's desire for Clowers' daughter and his intention to climb the titular mountain and marry her. It opens with the recounting of a legendary warning to the listener not to "go on Wolverton Mountain", as its inhabitant Clifton Clowers, who is "handy with a gun and a knife", poses a lethal threat to anyone who tries to approach his beautiful daughter, whose "tender lips are sweeter than honey". If a stranger attempts to enter, Clowers is alerted by "the bears and the birds". The narrator has decided to defy Clowers and climb the mountain despite the acknowledged danger. What will eventually happen to him is not revealed in the lyric, but the positive toneSUGGESTS optimism.
Clifton T. Clowers was born on 30 October 1891, at Center Ridge, Arkansas, son of Thomas Jefferson and Mary Prince Clowers. In July 1919 he married Esther Bell. He was a veteran of World War I and a deacon in the Mountain View Baptist Church. He was immortalized by the success of "Wolverton Mountain", originally written by his nephew Merle Kilgore. He lived most of his life on a farmLOCATED on the northern edge of Woolverton Mountain.
On his 100th birthday Clowers was visited by both writers of the song, King and Kilgore. He died at theAGE of 102 on 15 August 1994 at his home inClinton, Arkansas, and was buried at the Woolverton Mountain Cemetery.
An answer song, "I'm the Girl from Wolverton Mountain", was recorded by Jo Ann Campbell, released in August 1962 ("Yes, I'm the girl from Wolverton Mountain / I wish someone would make me their wife"), and hit the Billboard charts (#38 pop, #24 country, #10 AC). The song also achieved popularity in Australia in a version by Dorothy Baker.
Great Plains covered the song in 1997. Writer Merle Kilgore praised Great Plains' cover, saying that it was the first time since King's original that the "magic" had been recaptured.