Today (September 17) marks the death anniversary of the great country legend George Hamilton IV. Let’s take some time to celebrate him today by remembering his legacy.

On this day, the then 50-year veteran of the Grand Ole Opry sadly passed away in a hospital in Nashville after suffering from a heart attack a couple of days prior. Considered as the International Ambassador of Country Music, his passing left a great role that has yet to be filled.

george hamilton IV

George IV & Gordon Lightfoot Recording in RCA Studio A Nashville. Image via the George Hamilton IV Bridge Facebook page

Humble Beginnings and Rise to Fame of George Hamilton IV

Hamilton was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on July 19, 1937. His grandfather worked at the railroads and through him, the young Hamilton IV was introduced to country music. He comes from an established family with his father working as the vice-president for a company that made Goodie’s headache powders.

George was never really a country boy. He lived most of his childhood in Winston-Salem, North Carolina but he was introduced to the music through his grandparents. He loved cowboy movies and enjoyed singing along to the tunes in them. His grandfather introduced him to Jimmie Rodgers and The Grand Ole Opry where they bonded each weekend listening to them on the radio.

When he was 19, Hamilton recorded “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” which reached No. 6 in the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts and gained a gold record by 1960. He became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry on February 8, 1960.

george hamilton IV

Photo Courtesy of The George Hamilton IV Family Library. All Rights Reserved.

“Before This Day Ends” became the breakthrough hit of George Hamilton IV. Two years later he released “Abilene” which took the number 1 spot on the Country Billboard Charts and stayed there for 4 weeks.

george hamilton IV

George IV presenting John Hartford with his Grammy for “Gentle On My Mind” (1967). Image via the George Hamilton IV Bridge Facebook page

Around the mid-1960s, the country legend’s musical style started to show more folk influences. During this time he released songs like “Steel Rail Blues”, “Early Morning Rain”, “Urge for Going”, and “Break My Mind.” His single “She’s a Little Bit Country” was the last top 5 he received.

When his popularity in the US declined, he toured around the world in the Soviet Union, Poland, East Asia, Middle East, and Australia. The success of these shows gave Hamilton IV the title of “International Ambassador of Country Music.” During the 1970s he also hosted a couple of successful TV shows in the UK and Canada.

The succeeding years saw him focusing more on Country Gospel music releasing the album “On A Blue Ridge Sunday” in 2004. He remained a regular on the Grand Ole Opry until the later parts of his life along with other country shows in the US and UK.

george hamilton IV

George IV & Chuck Berry on the beach in Hawaii en route to Their Australia Tour w/ Bobby Darin (Jan./Feb.1959). Image via the George Hamilton IV Bridge Facebook page