George Hamilton IV

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George Hamilton IV
George Hamilton IV crop.jpg
George Hamilton IV at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007
Background information
Birth nameGeorge Hege Hamilton IV
Born(1937-07-19)July 19, 1937
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DiedSeptember 17, 2014(2014-09-17) (aged 77)
Nashville, Tennessee
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1956–2014
LabelsABC, Colonial, RCA Victor, Lamon
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George Hamilton IV
George Hamilton IV crop.jpg
George Hamilton IV at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007
Background information
Birth nameGeorge Hege Hamilton IV
Born(1937-07-19)July 19, 1937
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DiedSeptember 17, 2014(2014-09-17) (aged 77)
Nashville, Tennessee
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1956–2014
LabelsABC, Colonial, RCA Victor, Lamon

George Hege Hamilton IV (July 19, 1937 – September 17, 2014) was an American country musician. He began performing in the late 1950s as a teen idol, later switching to country music in the early 1960s.


Hamilton was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on July 19, 1937. While a 19-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hamilton recorded "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" for a Chapel Hill record label, Colonial Records. The song, written by John D. Loudermilk, climbed to No. 6 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart. By 1960, "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" had attained gold record status for ABC-Paramount (which had acquired the song from Colonial). The self-penned B-side of the record, "If You Don't Know", revealed Hamilton's ambitions to be a rockabilly-country singer. In late 1959, Hamilton moved his family to Nashville, Tennessee to further his work as a country musician.[1] On February 8, 1960, Hamilton officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.[2][3] Later that same year, he began recording for RCA Records, having been signed by Chet Atkins. In the UK he was less successful, with his biggest hit being "I Know Where I'm Going" in 1958. In 1984 he appeared with Billy Graham on his UK tour 'Mission England' and made other appearances as a solo performer in venues around the UK at this time.

Hamilton's breakthrough hit was the 1961 song "Before this Day Ends". His biggest hit came two years later with "Abilene", another song penned by Loudermilk and Bob Gibson. The song spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's country singles chart and reached the Top 20 of the Hot 100. The success of "Abilene" was followed with the song "Fort Worth, Dallas Or Houston" (a Top 5 hit in late 1964).

By the mid-1960s, Hamilton's music began showing a decidedly folk influence. This was especially evident with 1966's "Steel Rail Blues" and "Early Morning Rain" (both by Gordon Lightfoot), and 1967's "Urge for Going" by Joni Mitchell. Another 1967 hit was "Break My Mind" (by John D. Loudermilk). One more Hamilton song of this genre was a moderate hit in 1969—the Ray Griff-penned "Canadian Pacific". His last Top 5 single came in 1970, with "She's a Little Bit Country".

After his American chart success declined in the early 1970s, Hamilton began touring the world, across the Soviet Union, Poland, Australia, the Middle East and East Asia. These widely acclaimed international performances earned Hamilton the nickname The International Ambassador of Country Music.[4] He also hosted several successful television programs in the UK and Canada during the 1970s, and in the 1990s he played himself in the West End musical Patsy, based on the life of Patsy Cline.

In 2004, he recorded an acoustic gospel album with producer Dave Moody titled On a Blue Ridge Sunday which earned Hamilton a Dove Award nomination in the "Best Bluegrass Album of the Year" category by the members of the Gospel Music Association. A single from the album, "Little Mountain Church House", won nominee recognition in the "Best Bluegrass Recorded Song" category the following year.[5]

Until recently, Hamilton was a regular at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and in country shows throughout the U.S. and the UK. He mainly concentrated on gospel tours both at home and abroad. In 2007 he collaborated with Live Issue,[6] a group from Northern Ireland, to record a live album based on the life of Joseph Scriven, who wrote the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". The two also toured together again in 2009.

In 2008, Hamilton released a parody of his classic hit "Abilene" in the height of the soaring U.S. gas prices called "Gasoline". The acoustic single featured "The Oil Spots" (a.k.a. The Moody Brothers & George Hamilton V) and became a hit with audiences during Hamilton's Opry appearances. Hamilton was also a regular participant in the Country's Family Reunion video series.

In 2010, Lamon Records released the album Old Fashioned Hymns, recorded transatlantic with producers Dave Moody in Nashville and Colin Elliott in Ireland. Hamilton was joined on the 28-track collection by a number of musical guests, including Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Gail Davies, Pat Boone, Del McCoury, Bill Anderson, Connie Smith, Tommy Cash, Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea and many others.

Hamilton had a heart attack on September 13, 2014, and died on September 17 at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville.[7] On September 24th, the Ryman Auditorium hosted a memorial service which include performances by Marty Stewart, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Jett Williams, Gail Davies, Connie Smith, Dave Moody, Jimmy Capps, Barry and Holly Tashian, The Babcocks, Andrew Greer and Cindy Morgan. English music historian and journalist Tony Byworth, music writer and author Frye Galliard, artists and songwriters John D. Loudermilk and Bill Anderson, Grand Ole Opry general manager Pete Fisher, and WSM announcer Eddie Stubbs all shared stories of Hamilton's life and career during the memorial. The service concluded with "Amazing Grace" performed on bagpipes by Nashville Pipes and Drums Pipe Sergeant David Goodman.[8]


Hamilton was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010.[9]



YearAlbumChart PositionsLabel
U.S. Country
1958On CampusABC-Paramount
Sing Me a Sad Song
1961To You and YoursRCA Victor
1964Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston
1965Mister Sincerity...A Tribute to Ernest Tubb19
Steel Rail Blues3
1967Folk Country Classics3
1968The Gentle Country Sound of George Hamilton IV25
In the 4th Dimension36
1969Canadian Pacific
1970The Best Of
Back Where It's At
1971North Country45
West Texas Highway
1972Country Music in My Soul
Travelin' Light
International Ambassador
1973Out West Country
1974The Best Of Volume 2 (UK only)
"Greatest Hits"35
Back to Down East Country
1976Back Home at the Opry
1977Fine Lace and Homespun ClothAnchor
1978Feels Like a Million
1979Forever YoungMCA
1982Songs for a Winter's NightRonco
1983Country BeatSupraphon
1984Music Man's DreamRange
1985George Hamilton IVMCA
1986American Country Gothic with The Moody BrothersLamon Records
1990HomeGrown with George Hamilton VLamon Records
2004Blue Ridge SundayLamon Records
2006Heritage and LegacyLamon Records
2010Old Fashioned Hymns and Gospel Songs for Those Who Miss ThemLamon Records (US) and Hillcrest Recordings (Ireland)
2011In The Heart Of TexasHeart Of Texas Records
2012Luke The Drifter (The Other Side of Hank Williams)Lamon Records


YearSingleChart PositionsAlbum
U.S. Country
CAN Country
1956"A Rose and a Baby Ruth"6singles only
1957"High School Romance"80
"Only One Love"33
1958"I Know Where I'm Goin'"43
"Now and for Always"25
"Why Don't They Understand"10
"When Will I Know"65
"Your Cheatin' Heart"72Sing Me a Sad Song
1959"The Teen Commandments"29singles only
"Steady Game"
"Little Tom"
1960"Why I'm Walkin'"
"Before This Day Ends"4
"Walk On the Wild Side of Life"
1961"Three Steps to the Phone (Millions of Miles)"9To You and Yours
"To You and Yours (From Me and Mine)"13
1962"China Doll"22Abilene
"If You Don't Know I Ain't Gonna Tell You"6
1963"In This Very Same Room"21single only
1964"There's More Pretty Girls Than One"21116Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston
"Linda with the Lonely Eyes"25
"Fair and Tender Ladies"28
"Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston"93
1965"Truck Drivin' Man"11
"Walking the Floor Over You"18Mister Sincerity...A Tribute to Ernest Tubb
1966"Write Me a Picture"16Steel Rail Blues
"Steel Rail Blues"15
"Early Morning Rain"9
1967"Urge for Going"7Folksy
"Break My Mind"6
1968"Little World Girl"182The Gentle Country Sound of George Hamilton IV
"It's My Time"50
"Take My Hand for Awhile"3814In the 4th Dimension
1969"Back to Denver"264
"Canadian Pacific"B2514Canadian Pacific
"Carolina in My Mind"29339Back Where It's At
1970"She's a Little Bit Country"31
"Back Where It's At"161
"Countryfied"351North Country
"West Texas Highway"23West Texas Highway
1972"10 Degrees & Getting Colder"333
"Country Music in My Soul"6346Country Music in My Soul
"Travelin' Light"5220Travelin' Light
1973"Blue Train (Of the Heartbreak Line)"225International Ambassador
"Dirty Old Man"3812Out West Country
"Second Cup of Coffee"505The Best 2
1974"Claim On Me"59single only
"Ways of a Country Girl"23Trendsetter
"Back to Down East Country"12Back to Down East Country
1975"Bad News"10Trendsetter
1976"Bad Romancer"37Back Home at the Opry
1977"I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now"81Fine Lace and Homespun Cloth
"May the Wind Be Always at Your Back"
"Everlasting (Everlasting Love)"93
1978"Only the Best"81Feels Like a Million
"Take This Heart"
1979"Forever Young"21Forever Young
1980"Spin Spin"27
"Catfish Bates"
1984"Music Man's Dream"Music Man's Dream

A"Abilene" also peaked at No. 4 on Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.
B"Canadian Pacific" also peaked at No. 9 on the RPM Top Singles chart in Canada.

Guest singles[edit]

YearSingleArtistU.S. CountryAlbum
1967"Chet's Tune"Some of Chet's Friends38single only
1970"Let's Get Together"Skeeter Davis65A Place in the Country


YearB-SideCAN CountryOriginal A-Side
1968"The Canadian Railroad Trilogy"3"It's My Time"
1971"North Country"3"West Texas Highway"
1972"The Child's Song"3"Country Music in My Soul"


  1. ^ "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" was issued in UK as "A rose and a candy bar"as the Baby Ruth was unknown there.George Hamilton IV and Friends Biography Page
  2. ^ "George Hamilton IV". Grand Ole Opry. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Opry Member List PDF". April 23, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Inventory of the George Hamilton IV Papers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill". Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "GMA Press Room Online". Gospel Music Association. 
  6. ^ "Official Live Issue Website". Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "Opry star George Hamilton IV dead at age 77". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "2010 Inductees". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ "George Hamilton IV Album & Song Chart History - Country Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  11. ^ "George Hamilton IV Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ "George Hamilton IV Album & Song Chart History - Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  13. ^ "George Hamilton IV Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Country Singles". RPM. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Adult Contemporary". RPM. Retrieved June 13, 2011.