George Hamilton IV dies Wednesday in a Nashville hospital just days after suffering a heart attack. A statement posted on his official website reads, “Grand Ole Opry Legend George Hamilton IV, The International Ambassador of Country Music passed away at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital with his family by his side. George IV suffered a serious heart attack on Saturday and had been in critical condition from that time. The Hamilton family greatly appreciates everyones’ prayers.”
Mr. Hamilton was a frequent performer at Dollywood and a guest artist on several occasions at the Smoky Mountain Cowboy Church in Pigeon Forge. He was considered a true gentleman to those who knew him.
George was a 19 year old freshman at the University of North Carolina when he recorded his first hit record, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.” He soon moved to Nashville after switching from pop to country music. He was introduced to producer Chet Atkins and began working with Atkins. That union resulted in his first number one hit song, “Abilene,” in 1963. The song remained on top of the charts for four weeks.
He became the first country music singer to perform in the Soviet Union and recorded the first country album in Eastern Europe. He later hosted country music television shows in England and Canada.
George was a devout Christian, but he used the line “My name is George Hamilton the Fourth and I have a fifth at home” at many of his concerts.
He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 54 years and last performed on the Opry Saturday night, September 6.