We’ve decided to take a look at a significant Country Star, who in our era (the fifties) was also a Pop Star.
(born July 19, 1937, Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
5. Abilene/ RCA Victor 8181/ July 1963/ #15
Proclaimed the International Ambassador of Country Music thanks to his world tours in the ’70s, George Hamilton IV began his career in the late ’50s as a teen-oriented pop star. It all started with a poem written by John Loudermilk.
Born in Durham, North Carolina, John Loudermilk grew up in a family who were members of the Salvation Army faith and was influenced by singing in the church. As a young boy he learned to play the guitar, and while still in his teens wrote a poem that he set to music. The owners of the local television station, where he worked as a handyman, allowed him to play it on air and this came to the attention of country musician George Hamilton IV, who put it a record. The song: “A Rose And A Baby Ruth”.
After Hamilton’s first song, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” hit #6 on the pop charts in 1956, he toured with Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. However, his later pop efforts stalled on the charts, and in 1959, Hamilton joined the Grand Ole Opry.
Top ten country singles like “Before This Day Ends”, “Three Steps to the Phone (Millions of Miles)” and “If You Don’t Know I Ain’t Gonna Tell You” paved the way for 1963’s “Abilene,” which topped the Country Charts for four weeks and hit 15 on the Pop charts.
The following year, Hamilton charted three singles and returned to the Top Ten with “Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston.”
Folk music inspired Hamilton’s late-’60s hits, including the Gordon Lightfoot-penned “Steel Rail Blues” and Joni Mitchell’s “Urge For Going.”
Except for 1970’s number-three hit “She’s a Little Bit Country”, chart success eluded him during the ’70s, so George Hamilton IV took Country music around the world.
Besides more than ten tours of Great Britain and several BBC-TV productions, Hamilton became the first Country artist to perform behind the Iron Curtain. He also toured Africa, the Orient, New Zealand, Australia, and even the Middle East.
For the rest of his career, Hamilton concentrated on gospel recordings. His son, George Hamilton V, toured with his father’s backup band and charted a single in 1988. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide.