Saturday, 26 January 2013
Ronnie Hilton born 26 January 1926
Ronnie Hilton (26 January 1926 - 20 February 2001) was an English singer and radio presenter.
Born Adrian Hill in Hull, Hilton left school at 14 and worked in an aircraft factory in the early days of the second world war before being called up into the Highland Light Infantry. Demobbed in 1947, he became a fitter in a Leeds sewing machine plant.But Hilton had a passion for singing. In the evenings he performed with the Johnny Addlestone band at the Starlight Roof in Leeds and it was there that he was heard by HMV's A&R manager, Walter Ridley. Ridley recommended that he change his name, have an operation for the reconstruction of a hare lip and take up his offer of a recording contract. Hilton accepted all three suggestions and success followed.
Ronnie Hilton was one of those 1950s vocalists whose career coincided with rock 'n' roll's 1956 onslaught on the ballad-dominated hit parade. But for a time Hilton was a star - strictly for home consumption - with nine top 20 hits between 1954 and 1957, that transitional era between 78 and 45rpm records. A quarter of a century later he became the voice of BBC Radio 2's Sounds Of The Fifties series.
Hilton's approach owed much to the "nice 'n'easy" style of Americans such as Bing Crosby, Eddie Fisher and Perry Como. Together with the likes of Dickie Valentine and Michael Holliday, his was the kind of voice and style to which youngsters smooched as they edged across those dance floors not yet vibrating to Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock and Elvis Presley's Blue Suede Shoes.
Veni Vidi Vici and I Still Believe in December 1954 (Top 20 Charts) were followed in April 1955 by a cover of Nat "King" Cole's A Blossom Fell - which was a bigger hit for Valentine, a bigger star - and that September came Stars Shine in Your Eyes. In November, Hilton's cover of Mitch Miller's US hit, the Yellow Rose Of Texas brushed the charts - just as Rock Around The Clock went to number one.
From a comparatively unknown Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Me and Juliet" written in 1953, Ronnie Hilton took the hit tune "No Other Love", and scored his one and only UK Number One hit in 1956 and becomming Ronnie's signature tune. In securing the Number One, Hilton fought off competition from the UK-based Canadian Edmund Hockridge, and from The Johnston Brothers. Oddly, no American versions of "No Other Love" reached the UK Singles Chart at the time. Perry Como had been very successful with the song in America, but his version was released much earlier in 1953, when "Me and Juliet" first opened on Broadway.
Nevertheless, Hilton's light operatic style, similar to fellow Hullensian, David Whitfield, was already by the mid 1950s being overtaken by events. By the time "No Other Love" dropped off the UK Singles Chart, Elvis Presley had clocked up his first three UK hit singles. Hilton also performed in three Royal Variety Performances. He also took part in the inaugural A Song For Europe contest in 1957, failing in his attempt to be the UK's first representative in the Eurovision Song Contest. In summer 1957, as skiffle and Elvis gripped the charts, Hilton's cover of Around The World was a bigger hit than the Bing Crosby original.
Hilton's last chart hit for almost five years, in 1959, was "The Wonder of You"; the same song that Elvis Presley topped the UK chart with in 1970. In 1965 there was A Windmill In Old Amsterdam, which eventually sold a million, and became a fixture across decades of Children's Favourites.
A stroke in 1976 hindered his activities for a time and he was beset with financial problems. In 1989 the British Academy of Song Composers and Authors awarded him its gold medal for services to popular music. He died in Hailsham, East Sussex from another stroke, 20 February 2001 aged 75.
His first wife, Joan, died in 1985. His second wife, Chrissy, whom he married in 1989 survives him, as do four children, three from his first marriage. (info from Wikipedia & hullwebs.co.uk)
Here is 1968 clip of Ronnie Hilton singing Happy Again