George Hamilton IV
Member Since 1960
Travel is a way of life for George Hamilton IV. One look at his passport confirms that. Certainly, no one would dispute his unofficial title as the “International Ambassador of Country Music.”
Along with his title, George IV has compiled an impressive list of firsts. He appeared at London’s first International Festival of Country Music (1969) and performed at the first such international festivals in Sweden (1976), Finland (1977), Holland and Norway (1978), Germany (1979), Paris and Zurich (1980), and Vienna, Austria (1984).
He was the first American country singer to appear in Russia and Czechoslovakia (1974) and the first American to record a studio album in Eastern Europe (Prague, 1982).
George IV was the first American country singer to have his own British TV series. He also appeared in England’s first Country Music Summer Season show.
The firsts don’t stop there. George IV also was the first pop artist to switch to country music. As a college student, he gained stardom with the million-selling 1956 Top 10 pop hit “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.” He spent his weekends and vacations touring. By 1959, he had his own TV show on ABC.
One evening in 1960, sitting in the Ryman Auditorium enjoying the Opry, he decided to switch from pop to country music. After all, his roots were in country.
At age 12 or 13, this North Carolina native saved his paper-route money and, with his parents’ permission, rode a bus to Nashville to see the Opry. From his hotel room, George IV watched Red Foley and Ernest Tubb go into the National Life building to rehearse. He went over to watch rehearsals and met Chet Atkins, who invited him backstage.
After George IV moved to Nashville to pursue a country-music career, Chet signed him to RCA Victor. George IV joined the Opry the same year he had his first country hit, “Before This Day Ends,” in 1960. His first No. 1 came in 1963, with “Abilene.”
George IV admired the work of Canadian artist Gordon Lightfoot and recorded several of his songs, including the hits “Early Morning Rain” and “Steel Rail Blues.” George IV worked extensively in Canada, even hosting a TV show there for six years. From Canada, George IV ventured to Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, and the Holy Land, where he taped two TV specials.
He took a break from the Opry in 1971 to spend time with his family in North Carolina and to devote time to his television work in Canada and Great Britain. He moved back to Nashville in 1976 and plays the Opry regularly when not off to Europe and points beyond.
Music Man's Dream
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Birthplace: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Birth Date: July 19
Opry Induction: February 06, 1960