Goldie Hill

'The Golden Hillbilly'

Comparatively few successful musicians retire from public life at the peak of their fame, but the country singer Goldie Hill did just that. The possessor of a strong, clear voice, she secured a clutch of Top Twenty hits in the 1950s before marrying her fellow singer Carl Smith in 1957 and retiring from the business.

Argolda Voncile Hill, singer: born Coy City, Texas 11 January 1933; married 1957 Carl Smith (two sons, one daughter); died Nashville, Tennessee 24 February 2005.

Comparatively few successful musicians retire from public life at the peak of their fame, but the country singer Goldie Hill did just that. The possessor of a strong, clear voice, she secured a clutch of Top Twenty hits in the 1950s before marrying her fellow singer Carl Smith in 1957 and retiring from the business.

She enjoyed her greatest success with "I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes", which topped the country charts for three weeks in 1953. Written as an "answer song" to the Slim Willet-penned hit "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes", it heralded an interesting, if ultimately short-lived, career.

Born in Coy City, Texas, in 1933, she began performing alongside her brothers Kenny and Tommy in her teens. In partnership with Tommy, she joined Webb Pierce's band at the Louisiana Hayride in 1952 and accompanied him to Nashville, where she was signed to Decca. Her début single, "Why Talk to My Heart?" (1952), faltered, but she followed it with the smash that was "I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes" and by the end of the year found herself named "Best Female Artist" by the magazine Country Song Roundup.

Further hits followed, including a pair of duets with Justin Tubb, "Looking Back to See" (1954) and "Sure Fire Kisses" (1955), and a popular number with Red Sovine, "Are You Mine?" (1955). Billed as "The Golden Hillbilly", she performed on the Grand Ole Opry and in 1957 joined the cast of the Philip Morris Country Show. In the same year she married its star, the veteran hitmaker Carl Smith, and, to the surprise of many in Nashville, effectively retired from music.

In 1959 Decca unexpectedly released a single, "Yankee, Go Home", which featured a characteristic recitation from Red Sovine; it proved her last Top Twenty hit. In 1968 she was persuaded to cut a pair of albums for Epic, Goldie Sings Again and The Country Gentleman's Lady Sings Her Favorites, but they fared poorly. After Smith retired in the 1970s they spent their remaining years breeding quarter horses in Tennessee.

Paul Wadey

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