Roy Hamilton – Singer

The Impossible Dream

Hamilton’s booming baritone voice made him a 50s hitmaker singing gospel-flavoured pop songs. In the late 40s Hamilton honed his singing skills in a church choir and as a member of its offshoot quartet, the Searchlight Singers. He won a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in 1947, but it was not until 1953 that he was discovered singing in a New Jersey club by Bill Cook, an influential local disc jockey who became the singer’s manager.

Hamilton’s very first record for Columbia Records’ subsidiary Epic, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, became an R&B number 1 and national US Top 30 hit in 1954, and it shot Hamilton to fame (the song would also later become a UK hit for Gerry And The Pacemakers in 1963). There followed for Hamilton a long string of singles that reached both R&B and pop audiences, notably ‘If I Loved You’, ‘Ebb Tide’ and ‘Hurt’ (all three 1954), and ‘Unchained Melody’ (an R&B number 1, 1955).

Hamilton’s songbook was built from the most popular entertainments of the day; ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘If I Loved You’ were two Rodgers And Hammerstein songs taken from their musical Carousel, and ‘Unchained Melody’ came from a Warner Brothers film, Unchained. Hamilton retired during 1956-58 owing to exhaustion, but when he came back he had adopted the harder gospel sound of his youth to compete with rock ‘n’ roll and the emerging soul sound. Best reflecting the change in style were the singles ‘Don’t Let Go’ (1958) and his last hit record, ‘You Can Have Her’ (1961), plus the album Mr. Rock And Soul in 1962. The Epic label treated Hamilton as a major pop star and issued 16 albums by the artist.

During the mid-60s, his career sank while recording with MGM Records and then RCA Records, and he died not long after suffering a stroke in 1969.

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Roy Hamilton Jr. IS HONORED TO BE FEATURED IN THE SPRING ISSUE OF “THE TURNING POINT MAGAZINE: Your Lifestyle, Your Well-Being By The Fabulous, Chief Editor Esther Austin remembering his Legendary Dad Roy GoldenBoy Hamilton. February 2022


‘Roy 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 church when his family moved to Jersey City, New Jersey when Roy was 14, becoming a feature 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.

During his career, Roy spawned over 50 singles, eight of which crossed over to the pop charts. His bevy of hits included the aforementioned “Walk”, released in 1954, which went to number one on the R&B chart and was a pop hit, “Unchained Melody”, another number one R&B hit as well as a top ten pop hit the following year, and the up-tempo hits “Don’t Let Go” in 1958 and “You Can Have Her”, in 1961, both top ten hits. He also berthed a great deal of minor hits, such as his version of “Ebb Tide”, “Hurt”, “If I Loved You”, “Forgive This Fool”, and “Without a Song”. He rigorously toured and performed all over the world, his rich voice and prolific repertoire fitting in at the supper-clubs and cocktail lounges just as easily as on the Chitlin’ Circuit. His bona fide status as a Rock and Roll, star, however, got him a featured spot in the 1958 Columbia Pictures movie “Let’s Rock”.”

Unfortunately, Roy’s star was tragically extinguished when he suffered a stroke in New Rochelle, New York. Despite surgery, he died soon after on July 20, 1969, leaving behind his wife Myrna, and two sons, Roy Hamilton Jr. and Ray Hamilton. However, Roy’s memory is left alive by the countless volumes of work he left in his stead, his influence on the countless artists he inspired and the ones who followed in their footsteps, and his family, who tirelessly work to ensure that the legend of The Golden Boy will never be forgotten. As of January,2009, Roy Hamilton has been Inducted into, “The Hit Parade Hall Of Fame”, “Reflections In Black Museum Hall Of Fame” and “The Georgia Music Hall Of Fame”. He has also been granted a Honorary Laureate Degree at Morris Brown University, Atlanta, GA.”