George Hamilton IV, the legendary country music singer and Grand Ole Opry star, died Wednesday. He was 77.

George Hamilton IV Dies

Hamilton passed away at a Nashville hospital days after suffering a heart attack, reported Billboard.

Hamilton, a Winston-Salem, North Carolina native, began his musical career in the 1950s. His first song “A Rose and A Baby Ruth,” which he recorded while attending UNC Chapel Hill, rose to No. 6 on the Hot 100 chart. Following that success, Hamilton signed on to ABC/Paramount, with whom he worked on a number of releases, including 1958’s “Why Don’t They Understand.”

By 1959, Hamilton had moved to Nashville where he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the iconic weekly country concert stage. Hamilton, who ended up signing with RCA Victor had massive successes in the 60s, including “Three Steps to the Phone” and “Abilene.”

In the later part of the 60s, Hamilton brought folk influences into his music, recording songs written by Gordon Lightfoot (“Early Morning Rain,” “Break My Mind”) and Joni Mitchell (“Urge For Going”).

Though Hamilton’s last chart hit was “Only the Best” in 1978, he continued to be a major influence in country music, earning the title of “The International Ambassador of Country Music,” as he successfully toured through Europe, Asia, the Soviet Union and Australia. He also regularly played at the Grand Ole Opry, as well as led a backstage tour of the historic venue.

"It's been a real honor to have been associated with the Opry for this period of time," Hamilton said in an official biography. "It's been my musical homeplace which I first started visiting as a teenager. Back then, I would regularly catch a Greyhound bus from North Carolina and dream of performing on the Opry."

Hamilton is survived by his wife Adelaide, sons Peyton and George V, and daughter Mary.

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