Songwriter and manager Merle Kilgore, 70, died of congestive heart failure February 6th in Mexico, where he had been undergoing cancer treatments.
Kilgore began his career at 14 by carrying Hank Williams’ guitar up a flight of stairs in Nashville. By 18, he had written his first No. 1 hit – “More and More” – recorded by Webb Pierce. By writing “Ring of Fire” with June Carter Cash, he may have saved Johnny Cash’s career, which had been floundering up until that hit.
Kilgore eventually gave up his songwriting to manage
He was voted the Country Music Association’s first manager of the year in 1990, and was on the CMA’s board of directors as well as its one-time president.
He is also in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.