Hamilton, George, IV, 1937-

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Country music performer. Born July 19, 1937. Began career in the 1950s as a teen idol with the hit "A Rose and A Baby Ruth." Moved to country music in the early 1960s with several hits, including "Abilene" (1963). Known as the "International Ambassador of Country Music" for his extensive international travel and popularity.

From the description of Oral history interview with George Hamilton IV; 1991 June 27; Interview conducted by John W. Rumble and Paul Kingsbury; 1991 June 27. (Country Music Foundation, Library & Media Center). WorldCat record id: 58840925

From the description of Oral history interview with George Hamilton IV; 1985 November 1; interview conducted by John W. Rumble; 1985 Nov. 1. (Country Music Foundation, Library & Media Center). WorldCat record id: 58840924

Country musician and native North Carolinian George Hamilton IV was born on 19 July 1937. In 1956, while a student at the University of North Carolina, Hamilton recorded the song "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" for Colonial Records, a local label. From that recording, Hamilton went on make the transition to country music. He soon became a mainstay at the Grand Ole Opry and, through his work abroad, eventually became known as the International Ambassador of Country Music.

From the description of George Hamilton IV Collection, 1956-2006. (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 181032293

George Hamilton IV was born on 19 July 1937 in Winston-Salem, N.C. On 18 June 1956, while a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Hamilton recorded the song, A Rose and a Baby Ruth (written by John D. Loudermilk) for Orville Campbell's Colonial Records, also in Chapel Hill. From that recording, which became a hugely successful pop teen hit, Hamilton went on make the transition to country music; become a mainstay at the Grand Ole Opry; and, through his work abroad, become recognized as the International Ambassador of Country Music.

By the late 1950s, Hamilton had moved to Washington, D.C., and become a regular performer (with Patsy Cline, for a time) on Jimmy Dean's Town and Country Jamboree show. He had also toured with Bobby Darin, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers, along with many other well-known pop stars, and made numerous national television appearances. Although A Rose and a Baby Ruth, acquired by ABC-Paramount Records, had become the label's first million-selling record, in January 1960, feeling miscast as a teen pop singer and following his love of country music, Hamilton and his young family moved to Nashville.

On 8 February 1960, Hamilton officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Later that year, he began recording for RCA Records, having been signed by Chet Atkins. In 1963, John D. Loudermilk's Abilene became a number-one hit for Hamilton on the country charts and reached the top 20 in pop. His interest in Canadian songwriters became evident in the late 1960s when he recorded songs by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Gordon Lightfoot. In 1969, his first record of all Canadian music was released. Hamilton's internationalism was also shown by a long-standing involvement with the annual International Festival of Country Music, held at Wembley (UK), which began that same year. An association with the BBC also developed as Hamilton hosted many programs--variety and documentary--that showcased country music. His performance at Moscow University in 1974 was the first for an American country music performer. Other first performances on this tour were in Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Later that year, Billboard Magazine began to refer to Hamilton as the International Ambassador of Country Music.

In 1971, Hamilton left Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry for Charlotte, N.C., to join the broadcasts of Arthur Smith's country music televison show. He continued to work overseas while also maintaining a busy touring schedule in the United States. In the 1990s, he became involved with several musical theater and concert productions that featured the work of Patsy Cline, with Irish singer Sandy Kelly playing the title role.

Hamilton has continued to record country, folk, and gospel albums, including two with his son, George Hamilton V. In 2006, he celebrated his 50th year as a recording artist, which included a special reception hosted in London by the United States Ambassador to Britain.

From the guide to the George Hamilton IV Collection, 1956-2006, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Loudermilk, John D. John D. Loudermilk collection, 1950-1991. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Hamilton, George, 1937-;. Oral history interview with George Hamilton IV; 1991 June 27; Interview conducted by John W. Rumble and Paul Kingsbury; Country Music Foundation, Library & Media Center
referencedIn Morton, Hugh M. Hugh Morton photographs and films: People and events, late 1920s-early 2000s (bulk 1940s-1990s) (Series 2). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Earle, Eugene. Eugene Earle collection, 1939-1980s. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Hamilton, George, 1937-. George Hamilton IV Collection, 1956-2006. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf George Hamilton IV Collection, 1956-2006 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
creatorOf Hamilton, George, 1937-;. Oral history interview with George Hamilton IV; 1985 November 1; interview conducted by John W. Rumble; Country Music Foundation, Library & Media Center
referencedIn Hamilton, George, 1937-;. Oral history interview with George Hamilton IV; 1985 November 1; interview conducted by John W. Rumble; Country Music Foundation, Library & Media Center
referencedIn Hamilton, George, 1937-;. Oral history interview with George Hamilton IV; 1991 June 27; Interview conducted by John W. Rumble and Paul Kingsbury; Country Music Foundation, Library & Media Center
referencedIn Hugh Morton Photographs and Films,  , late 1920s-2006, (bulk 1940s-1990s) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. North Carolina Collection.
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Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
North Carolina
Canada
England
Czech Republic
Subject
Country musicians--Biography
Country musicians--Interviews
Country music
Country music--History
Music festivals
Country musicians
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1937-07-19

Americans

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