Country singer George Hamilton IV, 77, dies

Posted at 5:21 PM, Sep 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-19 17:21:48-04
(CNN) — Singer George Hamilton IV, known as the “International Ambassador of Country Music,” has died at a Nashville hospital following a heart attack, the Grand Ole Opry said in a press release. He was 77.

Hamilton’s biggest hit was “Abilene,” which reached No. 1 on the country charts in 1963 and returned him to the pop charts, the Opry said. His other country hits were “Before This Day Ends,” “Three Steps to the Phone” and “If You Don’t Know, I Ain’t Gonna Tell You.”

Hamilton performed around the world and became the first American country singer to appear in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia and was the first to record a studio album in Eastern Europe, the Grand Ole Opry said.

He performed extensively in Canada and recorded songs by Canadian songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot.

Hamilton started out as a pop singer and had a million-selling hit “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” in 1956 before switching to country. He’d been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1960.

The North Carolina native died Wednesday Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.