Music greats get together for stories and songs

Two country music greats will get together this summer to provide their audience with a delightful mix of stories and songs.

Two country music greats will get together this summer to provide their audience with a delightful mix of stories and songs.

Country star and Bentley native Dick Damron, and Grand Ol Opry star George Hamilton IV will be at the Bentley Ag Centre Aug. 16 at 7 p.m.

Damron, who has returned from Mexico to spend his summer at his home near Bentley, said he and Hamilton have a history together.

“We go back quite a ways.”

He recalled a time in 1979 when he was touring in Europe and the theatre where he was to perform burned down the night before his performance.

“When we received that news, we made plans to take in the George Hamilton IV concert in Oxford. George, being the gentleman that he is, left passes at the box office and provided Gordon Davies (my tour manager) and me with the best seats in the house.”

Chuckling, Damron recalled that George introduced him to the audience and then performed Countryfied, telling the audience that Dick had written the song for him and that his current tour was so hot the venues were burning down before he could play them.

A song performed by Hamilton that night, attributed to Scottish singer Moira Anderson, sparked an idea for Damron that later evolved into the song “If London Were a Lady.”

He recalled writing the words to the song, which he says is one of the prettiest songs he would ever write.

“A couple of days after George’s concert, I was in London waiting for a few hours to fly to Chicago and on to Nashville to record. I had been walking along an almost-deserted street. It was foggy and a drizzling rain had me soaked and chilled to the bone. A few doors down, I discovered a small pub. I entered, ordered a cup of coffee and removed my rain-soaked jacket. By the time the waiter returned with my coffee, I had taken a paper napkin from the dispenser and began to write.”

Since his first record release of Gonna Have a Party in 1958, his first chart record, ‘That’s What I Call Living: in 1961 and his first number 1 recording of “Hitch Hikin’” on RCA in 1964, Dick Damron has written more than 500 songs and recorded more than 30 CDs, cassettes and vinyl albums.

The International Country Music Hall of Famer, has performed in thousands of venues around the world and won almost every country music award in Canada. He is the recipient of five Texas Awards and was twice named Foreign Artist of the Year in Europe.

His autobiography, The Legend and The Legacy, was published in 1998. He has also written the novels Rock A Bye Baby Blues and Pacific Coast Radio. He is working on a book entitled The Last Days Of a Crazy Old Man in Mexico.

Damron, who has experienced health issues in the last few years, said he is surprised his creativity remains strong.

“I am amazed the creativity still lives inside of me,” he said. “But, now when I’m out of gas; I’m out of gas.”

As much as Damron has become a legend in his own right in the country music world, he downplays his own accomplishments and encourages the public to come and listen to Hamilton 1V, whom he views as an extremely talented musician.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to see someone like that. He’s absolutely a wonderful person and as humble as can be.”

George Hamilton IV’s impressive record includes being the first country artist to go behind the Iron Curtain where he gave concerts in Prague and Moscow. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s he hosted his own national television series in Britain and Canada which was later syndicated to New Zealand, South Africa and Hong Kong.

He received the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award in 1988 and was nominated again 2004, 2005 and 2007 for his country-gospel recordings.

George Hamilton IV recorded his first hit single ‘A Rose and A Baby Ruth’ in 1956 and by early 1957 it was a certified million-selling gold record. Country hits like Before This Day Ends, Three Steps to the Phone, Truck Drivin’ Man, and his signature song Abilene earned his induction to the Sidewalk of The Stars at the Country music Hall of Fame.

As well as performing in Bentley, Damron and George Hamilton IV will play at the Edmonton Century Casino Aug. 17 and at the Red Deer Central Music Festival Aug. 19.

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