Roy Hamilton

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For the basketball player, see Roy Hamilton (basketball). For the record producer, see Roy "Royalty" Hamilton.
Roy Hamilton
Roy Hamilton 1957.JPG
Hamilton in 1957.
Background information
Birth name Roy Hamilton
Born (1929-04-16)April 16, 1929
Leesburg, Georgia, United States
Died July 20, 1969(1969-07-20) (aged 40)
New Rochelle, New York, United States
Genres Pop, R&B, rock and roll
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1947–1969
Labels Epic, MGM, RCA
Website Official website

Roy Hamilton (April 16, 1929 – July 20, 1969)[1] was an American singer, who achieved major success in the United States R&B and pop charts in the 1950s. He is best known for his recordings of "You'll Never Walk Alone", "Unchained Melody" and "You Can Have Her".[1]


Born in Leesburg,[1] Georgia, United States, Hamilton moved to Jersey City in 1943, studied commercial art, had operatic and classical voice training, and was a heavyweight Golden Gloves boxer,[2] before joining the gospel quartet, The Searchlight Singers in 1948.[3] In 1947, he entered and won an amateur talent show at the Apollo Theater with his rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone". However, he did not record commercially until 1953, when he was discovered singing in a New Jersey club by a local DJ Bill Cook, who became his manager.[4] Columbia Records saw him as a possible "crossover" singer with a foothold in both pop and R&B, and signed him to their subsidiary label Epic.[4] His first single, "You'll Never Walk Alone", became an R&B number 1 for eight weeks, and a national US Top 30 hit in 1954, and shot Hamilton to fame.[5]

He followed up with a string of singles that reached both R&B and pop audiences, many of which were popular show tunes of the day. These included "If I Loved You So" (#4 R&B), "Ebb Tide" (#5 R&B), "Hurt" (#8 R&B), "Unchained Melody" (#1 R&B, #6 pop), and "Don’t Let Go" (#2 R&B, #13 pop).[6] His style and sound directly influenced later artists such as Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich and The Righteous Brothers, all of whom covered his music.[citation needed]

In mid-1956, Hamilton announced his retirement due to his illness with tuberculosis and exhaustion, but returned the following year.[citation needed] When he came back, he adopted the harder gospel sound of his youth, to compete with rock and roll and the emerging soul sound.[vague] Hamilton appeared in the film Let's Rock, in 1958. His 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. However, by the mid 1960s, his career declined while recording with MGM and then RCA. In 1959, Roy was cast, as cameo role, in Filipino motion picture produced by People's Pictures "Hawaiian Boy" where he sings "Unchained Melody".

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

His final recordings were made in Memphis, Tennessee, at record producer Chips Moman's American Sound Studio at the same time that Elvis Presley recorded there in early 1969.[7] Songs released from those sessions were 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.[8]

Later years and death[edit]

Hamilton died later in 1969, not long after suffering a stroke, at age 40, in New Rochelle, New York.[1] Hamilton was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2010.


Singles (chart hits only)[edit]

Year Title Label & Cat. No. Billboard Hot 100[9] US R&B[6]
1954 "You'll Never Walk Alone" Epic 9015
1954 "If I Loved You" Epic 9047
1954 "Ebb Tide" Epic 9068
1954 "Hurt" Epic 9086
1955 "Unchained Melody" Epic 9102
1955 "Forgive This Fool" Epic 9111
1955 "Without A Song" Epic 9125
1955 "Everybody's Got A Home" Epic 9132
1957 "So Long" Epic 9212
1958 "Don't Let Go" Epic 9257
1958 "Pledging My Love" Epic 9294
1959 "I Need Your Lovin'" Epic 9307
1959 "Time Marches On" Epic 9323
1961 "You Can Have Her" Epic 9434
1961 "You're Gonna Need Magic" Epic 9443


  • Guralnick, Peter (1999): Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, Little, Brown and Company, London. ISBN 0-316-64402-1


  1. ^ a b c d Doc Rock. "The 1960s". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  2. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 11. CN 5585. 
  3. ^ "The Official Tribute Site". Roy Hamilton. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  4. ^ a b "Biography". Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  5. ^ "Roy Hamilton". Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  6. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 181. 
  7. ^ Jones, Roben (2010). Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios (1st ed.). Jackson: University of Mississippi. pp. 199–218. ISBN 978-1-60473-401-0. 
  8. ^ Jones, Roben (2010). Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios (1st ed.). Jackson: University of Mississippi. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-60473-401-0. 
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 299. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 

External links[edit]