The Llano Country Opry will be staged on Saturday, August 8, at the Lantex Theater in downtown Llano. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are now on sale at the Llano Chamber of Commerce, Llano National Bank, Lively Computers in Kingsland or by calling (325) 247-5354.
Grand Ole Opry Star George Hamilton IV will headline the monthly show. Hamilton was born on July 19, 1937, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He began performing in the late 1950s as a teen idol, later switching to country and folk music.
On June 18, 1956, while a 19-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hamilton recorded “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” for Chapel Hill record label, Colonial Records. The song, written by John D. Loudermilk, climbed to number 6 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart. By 1960, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” had attained gold record status for ABC-Paramount. The B-side of the record, “If You Don’t Know,” revealed Hamilton’s ambitions to be a country singer.
In late 1959, Hamilton moved his family to Nashville, Tennessee to further his work as a country musician.On February 8, 1960, Hamilton officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Later that same year, he began recording for RCA Records, having been signed by Chet Atkins. Hamilton’s breakthrough hit was the 1961 song “Before This Day Ends.”
His biggest hit came two years later with “Abilene,” another song penned by Loudermilk. The song spent four weeks in the number 1 spot on Billboard’s country singles chart and reached the Top 20 of the Hot 100. The success of “Abilene” was followed with the song “Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston” (a Top 5 hit in late 1964).
By the mid-1960s, Hamilton’s music began showing a decidedly folk influence. This was especially evident with 1966’s “Steel Rail Blues” and “Early Morning Rain” (both by Gordon Lightfoot), and 1967’s “Urge For Going.” Another 1967 hit was “Break My Mind.” One more George Hamilton IV song of this genre was a moderate hit in 1969 - the Ray Griff penned “Canadian Pacific.” His last Top 5 single came in 1970, with “She’s a Little Bit Country.”
In the early 1970s, Hamilton began touring the world, across the Soviet Union, Australia, the Middle East and East Asia. These widely-acclaimed international performances earned Hamilton the nickname ‘The International Ambassador of Country Music’. He also hosted several successful television programs in the UK and Canada during the 1970s, and in the 1990s he played himself in the West End musical, Patsy, based on the life of Patsy Cline.
Hamilton is still a regular at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and in country shows throughout the U.S. and the UK. He mainly concentrates on gospel tours both at home and abroad. In 2007 he collaborated with a group of musicians from Northern Ireland called ‘Live Issue’ to record a live album based on the life of Joseph Scriven, who wrote the hymn, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.”
As of June 2008 Hamilton aired “Gasoline,” which he has been playing on The Grand Ole Opry and has recorded as a single.
“I am so excited to get to perform at the Llano Country Opry,” Hamilton said. “I love Texas so much and do not get the opportunity to visit the great state. I have wanted to work the Llano Country Opry and visit the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum in Brady for the last several years. I am looking forward to a great show and getting to meet some new friends.”
Other entertainers on the show will include Kim Murray, Rance Norton, Ben Watson, Shane Lively, Don Ricketson, Bucille Snotgrass, Ricky Turpin and Charley Walton. Tracy Pitcox will MC the show. For more information about the Llano, Mason or Marble Falls Opry, log on to www.heartoftexascountry.com.