Obituary – Vince Hill

1934-2023

Vince was a multi–million selling recording artist best known for his 1960s mega–hit Edelweiss.

Over his lifetime, Vince released twenty-five studio albums, recorded theme songs for five motion picture soundtracks and earned a national and international reputation through hit records and sold–out performances at some of the world’s most prestigious concert venues such as the Sydney Opera House, London’s Royal Albert Hall, and the London Palladium.

Vince also carved out a successful career in radio and television with popular shows such as Vince Hill Sings (BBC Radio 2) Along Came Vince (BBC Radio 2) They Sold a Million (BBC2) Musical Time Machine (BBC2) Vince Hill’s Solid Gold Music Show (BBC Radio 2) Simply Vince (BBC Radio 2) and his own chat show Gas Street (ITV)
– these regularly commanded top–rated audience figures.

Vince was born in the city of Coventry on 16 April 1934 and started his singing career at the tender age of just fifteen after winning a talent contest – but he was no overnight sensation. He took singing lessons and worked as a coal miner to make ends meet but his first lucky break came when he read an advert in the Melody Maker which said The Band of the Royal Corps of Signals needed a vocalist. He travelled to Catterick camp in Yorkshire where the band was based, did the audition, and got the job. This offered Vince a wonderful way to do his National Service as well as gaining valuable experience performing all around the world. After leaving the band Vince started singing with some of the popular groups of the day including The Four Others and the hugely popular Raindrops who established themselves with regular radio and television appearances.

In 1957 Vince met Annie, who would become not only his wife but also the person who would change his life and fortunes forever by making him a solo artist! Vince first met Annie when she was secretary to top London agent Tito Burns who was looking after among others, Cliff Richard and the Drifters (as they were then known). With Annie’s guidance, Vince launched his solo career in May 1962 when Piccadilly Records released his début single The Rivers Run Dry – this became Vince’s first UK chart hit and led to further singles and appearances on top TV and radio shows like Parade Of The Pops and Stars and Garters, this exposure ensured Vince came to the attention of the A&R division of recording group EMI who signed him to their prestigious Columbia label in 1965.  He was married to Annie for 50 years.  She sadly died of a degenerative lung condition in 2016.  Vince and Annie had one son Athol who sadly passed away in 2014 at the age of 42.

This major recording deal, produced in just seven years, TEN acclaimed studio albums and a string of hit singles including Take Me To Your Heart – to the tune of La Vie En Rose – Roses Of Picardy – Love Letters In The Sand Look Around (And You’ll Find Me There and his million–selling signature tune Edelweiss taken from the Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound Of Music.

Vince also recorded songs Love Me True for 1966 action film Cast A Giant Shadow, starring Kirk Douglas, and When The World Is Ready for Yul Brynner’s 1967 adventure movie The Long Duel.  He also had a theatre career as the lion in a Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Wizard Of Oz and as the composer Ivor Novello in My Dearest Ivor.

In 2019 Vince began to lose his sight and became Patron of The Macular Society and support of Blind Veterans UK.

Vince was a big part of the Henley community, he sang for 10 years at Mayor’s Over 60s parties, he helped present the Henley in Bloom garden awards and he was a big supporter of the Kenton Theatre.  He performed his finale show there in September 2018.

Vince Hill spent the twilight years of his life enjoying the picturesque surroundings of his Shiplake home with his two precious grandchildren, family, and friends.
In August 2021, Vince suffered a stroke which ended his live performances.

Vince passed away peacefully at home on 22 July 2023, at the age of 89.

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