Wyatt Merle Kilgore ( born August 9, 1934 in Chickasha, Grady County, Oklahoma; † 6 February 2005 in Mexico ) was an American composer, songwriter, country singer and manager. His most famous song is the Ring of Fire, which he co-wrote with June Carter, and in 1963 was in the interpretation of Johnny Cash a worldwide hit.
Kilgore grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and began playing guitar as a child. As a 14 - year-old he met at the Louisiana Hayride the country star Hank Williams know, from which developed a friendship over three generations. At age 16, Kilgore worked as a DJ at the local radio station in Shreveport, at the same time he began to work as a songwriter and singer. At the age of 18 he wrote his first big hit More and More along with Webb Pierce, who could keep order in 1954 for ten weeks at No. 1 on the American charts.
After a successfully completed study at Louisiana Tech School and several unsuccessful singles Kilgore came in 1959 Starday Records and managed 1960 Dear Mama his first singles chart placement. The few months later published song Love Has Made You Beautiful was to be his greatest success as a singer with number 10 in the Billboard Hot 100. 1959 Kilgore moved to Nashville and wrote here for Johnny Horton Johnny Reb the song, which thus reached # 10 in the Billboard charts. In 1962, in collaboration with Claude King Wolverton Mountain of country classics, and in the same year composed Kilgore along with June Carter about the worldwide success Ring of Fire.
The other publications of Kilgore were only moderately successful, so in 1969 he the company " Merle Kilgore Management" founded, managed, among others, the singer Hank Williams Jr.. He was on the board of the Country Music Association (CMA ) works, at times even as their Vice President. Kilgore also tried his hand as an actor, for example, in 1966 Steve McQueen - Western Nevada Smith, and in 1980 in the film adaptation of the life story of Loretta Lynn.
1998 Kilgore was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Merle Kilgore died in 2005 at a clinic in Mexico from lung cancer. He was buried in the cemetery in Hendersonville Memory Gardens near Nashville, on the Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash were buried.