Roy HamiltonRoy Hamilton, during his illustrious 15-year singing career, was known by many nicknames: Mr. Rock and Soul, The Gentle Giant, and, most notably, The Golden Boy of Song. But few of these nicknames fully encompass the majesty of his voice, the influence he had on the artists of his generation, or the legacy his music has left behind. He was idolized by Elvis Presley, emulated by Jackie Wilson and Brook Benton, and covered by the Righteous Brothers. And his voice and legacy have earned him a place in the annals of history for years to come.
Born on April 16, 1929, in Leesburg, Georgia, Roy began his journey into music history singing in his local church choir at the tender age of six. He continued molding his voice within the church when his family moved to Jersey City, New Jersey when Roy was 14, becoming a featured soloist in the Central Baptist Church Choir. In high school, believing his destiny set for singing, he soon turned his path towards the performing arts. He also became a boxer and attained six victories as an amateur heavyweight before becoming put off by the violence of the sport.
In 1948, Roy continued to perfect his signature baritone as a member of a gospel quartet called The Searchlight Singers. Soon, however, he yearned for the solo spotlight and began performing in clubs throughout New Jersey and New York. It was there that he met his future manager, Bill Cook, a DJ who hosted a live radio program at the Caravan Club in Newark, NJ in 1953. Roy tore down the house with the song that would become his first hit, You’ll Never Walk Alone. From there, Bill took Roy under his wing as his manager, and Roy was signed to Columbia Records, his first major label, in December of that year.