Legendary country singer George Hamilton IV is in a Nashville hospital, recovering from what Grand Ole Opry officials say was a “serious” heart attack over the weekend. A new post on the 77-year-old Opry star’s website reports that he remains in critical condition, but is resting comfortably.
“He and his family greatly appreciate your ongoing prayers and respect for their privacy at this personal time,” reads the update.
The North Carolina native got his start when he was just a teenager, scoring a Top 5 hit and platinum sales in 1956 with “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.” Tours with the likes of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers followed, as did a mentorship and record deal with country pioneer Chet Atkins, who helped steer Hamilton from pop to country. Some of the singer’s most-beloved, Nashville-produced hits include “Abilene,” “Truck Drivin’ Man,” “Early Morning Rain” and “She’s a Little Bit Country.” Between 1960 and 1978, he charted 40 songs on Billboard‘s country chart, and in the early Seventies was crowned the “International Ambassador of Country Music,” after becoming the first country singer ever to perform in the Soviet Union and Prague.
The Eighties saw Hamilton delve into gospel music, as he embarked on several church tours and made an album of entirely inspirational recitations. In the Nineties, he added theater to his resume, as he was the narrator of the critically lauded Patsy Cline: The Musical. His latest album is one of several gospel-influenced projects in his lengthy catalog, 2010’s Old Fashioned Hymns, which features guest vocals by a long list of famous friends including Ricky Skaggs, Bill Anderson and Del McCoury.
Hamilton was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1960 and is still a regular performer today.