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Roy Hamilton

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Birth name
Roy Hamilton

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Roy Hamilton

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Cat-Women of the Moon

Roy Hamilton ROY HAMILTON Craig Moerer Records By Mail

April 16, 1929Leesburg, Georgia, United States (

July 20, 1969, New Rochelle, New York, United States

Warm Soul, Soft 'N' Warm, Rockin' And Boppin'

Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

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The golden boy roy hamilton

Roy Hamilton (April 16, 1929 – July 20, 1969) was an American singer. By combining semi-classical technique with traditional black gospel feeling, he brought soul to Great American Songbook singing. Hamilton's greatest commercial and artistic success occurred in the 1950s. He is best known for his recordings of "You'll Never Walk Alone", "Unchained Melody" and "Ebb Tide".


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Hamilton's style and sound directly influenced later artists such as Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson and The Righteous Brothers, all of whom covered his music.

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Early life

Roy Hamilton The Definitive 3950s Singles Collection Roy Hamilton

Roy Hamilton was born in Leesburg, Georgia where he began singing in church choirs at the age of six. In the summer of 1943, when Hamilton was fourteen, the family migrated north to Jersey City, New Jersey in search of a better life. There, he sang with the Central Baptist Church Choir, New Jersey's most famous African American church choir. At Lincoln High School, he studied commercial art and was gifted enough to place his paintings with a number of New York City galleries.

Roy Hamilton Audio Preservation Fund Acquisition Detail Roy

In February 1947, seventeen-year-old Hamilton took his first big step into secular music, winning a talent contest at the legendary Apollo Theater. But nothing came of it. “I couldn’t get a break," Hamilton recalled. "I really had nothing different to offer. They were seeking blues singers at the time, and I didn’t know any blues at all." So, to support himself while he developed the different sound and singing style he wanted, Hamilton took a job as an electronics technician during the day and became an amateur heavyweight boxer at night, amassing a record of six wins against only one defeat.

In 1948, Hamilton joined the Searchlight Gospel Singers and also studied light opera, working with New Jersey voice coach J. Martin Rolls for more than a year. Hamilton continued to perform gospel with the Searchlight Singers, in churches and at gospel concerts, until 1953 when the group broke up and each member went off in his own direction. Hamilton headed back into pop music. But this time, he felt he finally had something different to offer.

Epic beginning (1954-56)

In late 1953, Hamilton was discovered singing in a Newark, New Jersey night club, The Caravan, by Bill Cook, who became his manager. Cook held the distinction of being the first African American radio disc jockey and television personality on the East Coast. After listening to a demo tape of Hamilton's singing, an executive at Columbia Records envisioned him as a possible "crossover" singer with a foothold in both pop and R&B, and signed him to the company's newly launched subsidiary label Epic. His first single, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel, became an R&B number-one for eight weeks, and a national US Top-30 hit in 1954, and shot Hamilton to fame. His follow-up single was another Rodgers and Hammerstein tune from Carousel, "If I Loved You", which reached number four on the R&B charts. Hamilton's third release, "Ebb Tide", a song previously recorded by Vic Damone and later by Frank Sinatra, was still another hit.

On Saturday night, September 11, 1954, Hamilton made his national television debut on CBS's Stage Show, hosted by big band leaders and brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. But the national television appearance that put Hamilton's career on the fast track to crossover success was the one he made on the night of March 6, 1955 when he sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" on CBS's top-rated Ed Sullivan Show. In the words of a Variety magazine TV reviewer: "Hamilton made good with his single...which he endowed with the values of a spiritual."

On March 16, 1955, to capitalize on the popularity increase Hamilton received from his "Ed Sullivan Show" appearance ten days earlier, Epic Records rushed him into the studio to record a cover version of the recently-breaking hit song "Unchained Melody". Two months later, Hamilton's gospel-tinged version of the song became his second number-one R&B hit as well as his first, and only, top-ten US pop hit, peaking at number six. More traditional pop and Great American Songbook singles followed in succession: "Without a Song" (#77 pop), "Cuban Love Song", Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Everybody's Got a Home But Me" (#42 pop) from the musical Pipe Dream, "There Goes My Heart", and Frank Loesser's "Somebody Somewhere" from the musical The Most Happy Fella.

Retirement and comeback (1956-62)

In mid-1956, Hamilton announced his retirement due to his illness with tuberculosis and exhaustion, but returned the following year. When he came back, he adopted the harder gospel sound of his youth, to compete with rock and roll and the emerging soul sound. Hamilton appeared in the film Let's Rock, in 1958 and had the second US top-twenty pop hit of his career with "Don’t Let Go" (#2 R&B, #13 pop).

In 1959, Hamilton appeared, in a cameo role, in the Filipino motion picture produced by People's Pictures "Hawaiian Boy" where he sings "Unchained Melody".

Hamilton's last hit record, "You Can Have Her" (#6 R&B, #12 pop), came in 1961, and was followed by the album Mr. Rock And Soul (1962). The Epic label treated Hamilton as a major star and issued sixteen albums by him.

Hamilton's "You'll Never Walk Alone" disc was brought in from the US by a sailor friend of Gerry Marsden. As a result, Gerry & the Pacemakers recorded the track to further success.

Later years (1963-69)

By the mid-1960s, Hamilton's career declined while recording with MGM and then RCA.

In January 1969, in Memphis, Tennessee, Hamilton made the final recordings of his career. The tracks were laid down at record producer Chips Moman's American Sound Studio, at the same time Elvis Presley happened to be recording there. Songs released from those Hamilton sessions were cover versions of James Carr's "The Dark End of the Street", Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe", and "Angelica", a Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil song that had been submitted to Presley, but which he then turned over to Hamilton.


Hamilton died later in 1969, not long after suffering a stroke, at age 40, in New Rochelle, New York. Hamilton was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2010.


  • 1958: Let's Rock, appeared as himself
  • References

    Roy Hamilton Wikipedia

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