MUSIC MATTERS - Happy birthday to Coventry legend Vince Hill - The Coventry Observer

15th Aug, 2022

MUSIC MATTERS - Happy birthday to Coventry legend Vince Hill

Coventry Editorial 21st Apr, 2022

COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.

ON Saturday, April 16, Coventry legend Vince Hill turned 88 – his powerful and emotive voice has charmed a generation of music lovers.

He had tried his hand as a baker and even a coal miner but singing professionally was where his life was leading.

He said: “I was born at 24 Hen Lane, Holbrooks and went to Hen Lane School but my first tentative notes in front of an audience were in a pub in Margate, of all places.

“It was aptly called The Prospect. My mother cajoled me into entering a talent contest which I won the first prize.

“Having got the taste for this singing lark, I took it quite seriously and soon started singing around the local pubs and clubs.

Hen Lane Club, The Bantam, The Unicorn Club and Rowleys Green are still vivid memories for me.

“I soon started to stretch my wings though Cox Street Club, Radford Club, all round the Midlands and up as far as Yorkshire.”

He continued his craft in the Royal Signals later joining The Teddy Foster Band, although his first real taste of fame was when he became part singing group The Raindrops.

He left the Raindrops in 1961 to go solo, he continued to appear on Parade of the Pops and on other shows such as TV’s very successful Stars and Garters programme.

This was to help him launch his solo career.

Indeed in 1963 he signed to Pye Records and gained his first chart entry with ‘The Rivers Run Dry’.

He moved to Columbia Records and more hits followed like ‘Take Me to Your Heart Again’, ‘Heartaches’ and ‘Merci Cheri’.

It was his next hit, however, that would prove life changing for Vince.

After much persuasion, Vince convinced Columbia Records that a song that had originally been sung by Julie Andrews in the hugely successful film the Sound Of Music would be hit material.

The song was of course ‘Edelweiss’, and Vince was right, it was a hit, a huge hit getting to number two.

So ‘Edelweiss’ was to become his signature tune for the rest of his career, a career that saw him top the bill at the Palladium and Talk of the Town.

He also fronted his own successful shows They Sold a Million, Musical Time Machine and Gas Street, a show that would highlight his presenting and interviewing talents.

He still found time to make more hit singles like the popular ‘Roses of Picardy’, ‘Love Letters in the Sand’ and ‘The Importance of Your Love’, as well as charting with the albums Edelweiss and That Loving Feeling.

Vince was due to take part in the UK City Of Culture celebrations, but sadly had a stroke shortly before the gig.

I talked to Vince and asked him for an update.

He said: “I’m doing very well, I’m pretty slow now, but thank goodness I have all my faculties.

“The stroke affected my right-hand side, my right hand still works okay, but I have no strength in it at all.

“I’m grateful I can talk without any problem, but I miss the things that I can’t quite do nowadays.

“I really am hoping to do one more show – I’m taking advice from a singing coach to get my voice back.

“I was so upset I couldn’t perform in Coventry as part of the City of Culture celebrations, but I send my love to Coventry, and let’s hope I get the chance to perform again!”

Happy Birthday Vince!!

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