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Vince Hill

Vince Hill

BiographyHill first sang professionally in a public house called The Prospect in Margate, Kent, when he was fifteen years old. But the decision to become a full-time musician came after he had worked as baker, truck driver, and coal miner.When he called up for military service, Hill received the deciding trigger for a professional career. He went on to be a singer with the Royal Signals Band. After leaving the military service he toured with a musical called Floradora, and he then became a singer with the Teddy Foster's Band, a big band based in London.At the beginning of the 1960s, he joined the critically acclaimed British vocal group, The Raindrops, which gave him his first opportunity to perform in television and radio shows, especially on the BBC radio show Parade Of The Pops. The Raindrops also had in its ranks Jackie Lee, Len Beadle and Johnny Worth. After leaving The Raindrops, Lee went on to record the popular singles "White Horses", and "Rupert", whilst Johnny Worth worked as a songwriter (under his pen-name, Les Vandyke he wrote many hits including the early successes of Eden Kane and Adam Faith). By late 1961 however, Hill left The Raindrops for a fledgling solo career.His debut entry in the UK Singles Chart was the Vandyke penned "The River's Run Dry", which went to #41 in June 1962. In 1963, he participated in A Song for Europe, the UK heat of the Eurovision Song Contest, with another Vandyke penned song, "A Day at the Seaside". The next few years proved fallow as a succession of single releases failed to chart. His first song in the Top 20 was "Take Me To Your Heart Again" - Hill's cover of the Édith Piaf hit, "La Vie En Rose" climbed to #13 in 1966. "Roses of Picardy", composed during the First World War, was another Top 20 success, reaching #13 in the summer of 1967. Further notable songs that he recorded included "Heartaches" (#28, 1966); "Merci Cherie" (written by the Austrian singer Udo Jürgens), which was the winning song in the Eurovision Song Contest 1966, (#36, 1966); "Love Letters in the Sand" (#23, 1967); "The Importance of Your Love" (music by Gilbert Bécaud; English lyrics by Norman Newell) and "Look Around (And You'll Find Me There)". The latter track, taken from the soundtrack to the film, Love Story was another Top 20 hit, but proved to be his chart swansong, reaching a pinnacle of #12 in the latter half of 1971.His most successful hit was "Edelweiss". This song, from the soundtrack to the musical film, The Sound of Music, was a #2 hit in the UK Singles Chart in March 1967. "Edelweiss" was to become his signature tune for the rest of his career, that saw him top the bill at the London Palladium and Talk of the Town. His album Edelweiss was his only hit album for Columbia, but between 1966 and 1973 he recorded albums normally including hits of the time mixed with his own title song.Another notable Hill recording was "Pray for Love", based on a melody by Mascagni, with a lyric by Norman Newell. He also made a vocal recording of the Russ Conway favourite, "Always You and Me", which became the title of an album.Once the hits had dried up, Hill continued to perform regularly in clubs, cabaret, and various stage productions. He still recorded albums and moved to CBS Records in 1975, where his first album for them Mandy included more contemporary material like "Streets of London". However, the albums failed to chart but he was a regular on TV shows in the 1970s, and beyond.During his later career he worked on cruise ships. Although known mainly for his voice he has composed songs as well. He and his musical director Ernie Dunstall wrote a song for Brendan Dougan that went to number one in the New Zealand chart.Vince was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1976 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.In 1982 he appeared on the Children's TV show Rainbow. In October 1983, he performed on one of the last episodes of BBC One's, light entertainment show, The Good Old Days. Other television appearances occurred in shows including Cash in the Attic, 3-2-1, Top of the Pops, The Morecambe & Wise Show and Seaside Special. In the mid-1980s Hill also appeared in an episode of Jim'll Fix It performing a ballad called "Sharon", requested by a viewer who claimed nobody had ever written a love song of that name.By 1983 he had added acting to his CV, first in the radio drama, Tolpuddle (which he also wrote) and playing Ivor Novello in the stage play, My Dearest Ivor. Hill also wrote the stage musical, Zodiac.Hill's first production credit for an album was the 1997 In Thine Eyes, CD a collection of classical church music and voices. His most recent tour, was entitled the 'I'm Still Standing Show', so named because of his recent battle with cancer.Hill currently lives in Lower Shiplake, which is a village in Oxfordshire on the River Thames, near Henley-on-Thames.He has also written his autobiography, Another Hill to Climb (Bank House Books), in collaboration with Nick Charles MBE.


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