‘Larger-than-life’ songwriter’s story told in new book

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, Merle Kilgore, subject of “These Are My People” 

There’s a special place in my heart for Merle Kilgore. Back in 2002, one of my knee replacement surgeries did not go as well as planned and it was almost impossible for me to get in and out of my home. Friends in Nashville’s bighearted music community put together a Benefit to raise money for the installation of a wheelchair ramp. Merle generously donated two front row seats at a Hank Williams, Jr. concert plus a limo ride to the show. It was a very popular auction item! Merle and his family were good friends to me since I moved to Nashville in 1991.

Mark Rickert’s new book about his grandfather, Merle Kilgore

Merle co-wrote “Ring Of Fire,” carried Hank Williams Sr.’s guitar, managed Hank Jr. for more than two decades, and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Now, his grandson, Mark Rickert, gives readers an insider’s look at Merle’s larger-than-life world in a new book, “These Are My People” (WriteLife Publishing) available for purchase now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and local bookstores across the country.

“We had a very close relationship,” Rickert recalls. “I listened to his stories for hours on end, summer after summer. He was a character and his friends were superstars. His was a story I always believed should be told.”

“Merle Kilgore was my best friend.” – Hank Williams, Jr.

From left: Hank Williams Jr., Mark Rickert, Merle Kilgore

The book is filled with details that only Merle or those closest to him would know. Kilgore died in 2005 and his funeral service was held at the Mother Church of Country Music: The Ryman Auditorium.


For Rickert, Johnny and June Carter Cash, Johnny Horton, Faron Young, Elvis, and other legends were the people who ruled the radio airwaves and populated “Daddy Merle’s” tales. From wrecking hotel rooms with Cash to the often-hilarious anecdotes of his life as a disc jockey and as a performer on the Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry, Merle lived life to the fullest. Blazing new career paths into the industry itself, Kilgore was undeniably a critical strand in the fabric of the Country music storyline.

“These Are My People” also includes a selection of more than 20 unique black and white photos. I can’t wait to read it!