Jack Barlow, the voice behind ‘I Love Country Music’ and other hits, passed away on Friday after a lengthy struggle with an undisclosed illness. He was 87.

A World War Two veteran, Barlow was a relative late bloomer in the music business. He was 40 when he finally moved to Nashville, where his distinctive baritone quickly scored him a record deal and a string of ’60s hits that included his signature number, ‘I Love Country Music,’ as well as ‘Catch the Wind’ and ‘Birmingham Blues.’

During the 1970s, Barlow moved into voiceover work, lending his pipes to a successful ad campaign for Big Red chewing gum. That led to dozens of other jingles and commercials for Barlow, including spots for Budweiser, Chrysler, Dodge, Kraft, and Kellogg’s.

Barlow even scored some radio play under an assumed name, cutting the novelty hit ‘I Wish I Was the Man on Page 602′ as the mysterious Zoot Fenster. But he never stopped recording his own music — his final album, ‘I Live the Country Songs I Sing,’ was released in 2007.

Barlow is survived by his wife of 24 years, Dianne, and brother Keith. He also leaves behind six children, 12 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

More From 1130 The Tiger