Elvis Presley and Roy Hamilton
August 28, 2021
In 1969 Elvis and Roy met at the American Sound Studios in Memphis. Both were being produced by Chips Moman, Elvis at night and Roy during the day. Elvis was thrilled to discover that Roy (his boyhood idol) would be working at the same studio during the day. Elvis would sometimes arrive early to listen to Roy.
Elvis Presley and Roy Hamilton (01:50)
It was during their meeting that Elvis presented Roy with a beautiful new song 'Angelica' (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weill) that he was going to record himself. The song turned out to be the single released from the session, a soaring, dramatic rendition that unfortunately struggled to find radio airplay. It also turned out to be Roy's last single as sadly, on July 20, 1969, the distinctive voice of Roy Hamilton was silenced when he died following a stroke.
Elvis recorded several of Roy's hits including, You'll Never Walk Alone, Hurt and Unchained Melody.
Without A Song
It was a Roy Hamilton R&B tune, 'Without A Song' that Elvis famously quoted for his acceptance speech at the U.S. Jaycees' Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1970 dinner.
'I learned very early in life that without a song the day would never end Without a song a man ain't got a friend Without a song the road would never bend Without a song. So I'll keep singing the song'.
Elvis Presley and Roy Hamilton at American Studios, 1969.
Elvis Presley and Roy Hamilton at American Studios, 1969.
In January and February of 1969, Elvis recorded some of his most famous songs right here in Memphis, including Suspicious Minds, In the Ghetto, Don't Cry Daddy, Kentucky Rain, Mama Liked the Roses and Rubberneckin'.
Roy Hamilton joins Elvis with George Klein and girlfriend Barbara Little at American Sound Studios in January 1969.
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 the 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 lot 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 an Honorary Laureate Degree at Morris Brown University, Atlanta, GA.
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Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.