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Vince Hill

One of the most pleasing but now underrated of the many MOR heartthrob vocalists who assaulted the U.K. charts during the 1960s, Vince Hill was born on April 16, 1937 in Holbrooks, Coventry. He made his professional singing debut at a local pub in 1952, at age 15, but it was not until he was called up for National Service (compulsory military duty) in the mid-'50s that he decided to move into full-time performing. He sang with the Royal Corps of Signals band and, following his return to civilian life, he toured Britain in the musical Floradora. Moving to London, Hill was recruited to Teddy Foster's big band, but turned to pop in 1960 when he joined the Raindrops, a vocal group that also featured Jackie Lee and Johnny Worth. Both would go on to considerable success, Lee with the hit singles "White Horses" and "Rupert the Bear" and Worth (under the pseudonym Les Vandyke) as a songwriter.

Hill's own success started immediately after he quit the Raindrops, when "The River's Run Dry" proved a minor hit in summer 1962. He was unlucky not to triumph in the U.K. qualifiers for the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest (where he performed "A Day at the Seaside"), and the next few years proved fallow as a succession of 45s failed to chart. January 1966, however, brought the number 13 hit "Take Me to Your Heart Again," an English-language version of Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose." "Heartaches" followed it into the Top 30 in March 1966, followed by "Merci Cherie," an English version of another Continental smash, Udo Jürgens' 1966 Eurovision Song Contest winner. Hill's biggest-ever hit arrived in 1967, when a version of the Sound of Music chestnut "Edelweiss" rose to number two. Further hits "Roses of Picardy," "Love Letters in the Sand," Gilbert Bécaud's "The Importance of Your Love," "Doesn't Anybody Know My Name," and "Little Bluebird" kept Hill in the charts throughout the remainder of the decade, but his chart returns were diminishing and 1971 brought his final hit, a number 12 slot for "Look Around and You'll Find Me There," from the movie Love Story. Despite this, Hill remained a regular guest on British TV through the 1970s, and continued to perform live for many years. ~ Dave Thompson
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