The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wolverton Mountain and the Chevy II Drug Wagon

In spring, summer, and fall of 1962, I was working on my Master's degree at George Peabody College in Nashville. To help with expenses, I worked part time at a drugstore in what's called the Village which is just over the hill from the Vanderbilt and Peabody campuses on 21st Avenue.

I worked as a short order cook for the grill/fountain area and on some days did drug deliveries to the pharmacy's regular customers, especially those who were shut-ins. (Dapper Dan, the Drug Delivery Man.)

The drugstore vehicle I drove while making the deliveries was a brand new, stripped down, white 1962 Chevy II wagon. It had a 90 hp four cylinder engine. Except for the color and the fancy trim, it looked a little like this...

 I said it was stripped down, and it was, but it did have an AM radio which I always tuned to WSM 650 as I made my deliveries.

That summer and fall I'll bet I heard Claude King's "Wolverton Mountain" about a thousand times on that Chevy II radio as I made my drug deliveries. (You can listen to the tune below.) The DJs played it over and over. It seemed like every time I got in the drug wagon and turned the radio on, the song was playing.

King actually co wrote the song with Merle Kilgore who had written a crude draft of the song earlier. It was based on an actual person, Kilgore's uncle Clifton. King liked what Kilgore had and deftly shaped the rough original into the hit ballad.

The song has a catchy tune, tells a story about a love struck young man and the girl protected by her father who lives on Wolverton Mountain, and it has those echoing "ahoooos" at the beginning.

Wiki says,

King was born in Keithville in southern Caddo Parish near the city of ShreveportLouisiana. At a young age, he was interested in music but more so in athletics. He purchased a guitar at the age of twelve, and although he learned to play, most of his time was devoted to sports. He was offered a baseball scholarship to the University of Idaho at MoscowIdaho.
King later returned to Shreveport and joined Louisiana Hayride, a television and radio show produced in Shreveport and broadcast in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. King was frequently on the same shows with Elvis PresleyTex RitterJohnny CashHank WilliamsWebb PierceKitty WellsJimmie DavisSlim WhitmanFaron YoungJohnny HortonJim Reeves,George Jones, and Lefty Frizzell.

"Wolverton Mountain" was a hit right away and stayed at No. 1 on the country charts for nine weeks; it also cracked the top ten 100 hot list for that year and eventually sold a million records.

Mr. King died this week at age 90. Here's the song which he'll be remembered for over many years to come.


  1. Didn't realize that you had a link to the tune. I'd already gone over to YouTube and given it a listen before I got that far into the post. The name of the song rang a bell, so I had to go listen.

    I remember this on the radio when I was young. Good stuff, an excellent song Dan.

    1. They certainly did play it a lot in my area too, Sarge.

  2. Freakin' blogger just ate my comment! Poof! It's gone!

    I'll retype part of it... beginning with "thanks but no thanks" on listening to WM. I was a senior in high school at that time and heard the song enough to last me my entire life.

    As for that Chevy II... A couple o' years later Chevy turned the 2-dr model in to the rompin', stompin' Nova SS. A friend of mine had one with the hi-perf 327 and a 4-speed; that car was untouchable.

  3. I looked up some info about the Chevy II yesterday when I wrote this and was surprised to find it was listed in '62 as a subcategory of the Chevy II with hardtop and convertible models. I didn't know that's where the Nova originated; I'm guessing the original Nova was the more upscale trimmed Chevy II and probably had the 6 cylinder engine. But Wiki also says that even in '62, later in the model year, Chevy offered a dealer installed V8 in the Nova model. As for that Nova SS, it is IMHO, about as close (along with the later GTO) as you can come in this life to the perfect car. Clean styling, small, light, and very powerful.