Vince Hill

Vince Hill
Hill at his Oxfordshire home holding his 55th Anniversary 'Legacy' hits CD, June 2017
Background information
Birth name Vincent Hill
Born (1934-04-16) 16 April 1934
Holbrooks, Coventry, England
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, record producer, playwright
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1959–present
Labels Piccadilly, EMI Columbia, CBS EMI

Vince Hill (born Vincent Hill, 16 April 1934)[1]) is an English traditional pop music singer and songwriter who is best known for his recording of the Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune "Edelweiss" (1967) which reached No.2 on the UK Singles Chart (staying on the chart for 17 weeks).[2] Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s, Hill hosted several hit TV shows during the seventies and eighties, including They Sold a Million (BBC), Musical Time Machine (BBC) and his own chat show Gas Street (ITV).[3]

Early life

Hill first sang professionally in a public house called The Prospect in Margate, Kent, when he was fifteen years old.[4][5] But the decision to become a full-time musician came after he had worked as baker, truck driver and coal miner.[5]

His first lucky break as a singer came when he read an advert in the Melody Maker which said The Band of the Royal Corps Of Signals needed a vocalist. He travelled to Catterick camp in Yorkshire where the band was based. Did the audition and got the job. This offered Vince a way to do his National Service as well as experience performing all around the world.[3] After completing his military service he toured with a musical called Florodora, and he then became a singer with the Teddy Foster's Band, a big band based in London.[4] At the beginning of the 1960s, he joined the critically acclaimed British vocal group, The Raindrops, which gave him his first opportunity to perform in television and radio shows, especially on the BBC radio show Parade of the Pops.[4] The Raindrops also had in its ranks Jackie Lee, Len Beadle and Johnny Worth.[4] After leaving The Raindrops, Lee went on to record the popular singles "White Horses", and "Rupert", whilst Johnny Worth worked as a songwriter (under his pen-name, Les Vandyke he wrote many hits including the early successes of Eden Kane and Adam Faith).[4]

By late 1961, Hill left The Raindrops for a fledgling solo career.[4][5] His debut entry in the UK Singles Chart was the Vandyke penned "The River's Run Dry", which went to No. 41 in June 1962.[4][6] In 1963, he participated in A Song for Europe, the UK heat of the Eurovision Song Contest, with another Vandyke penned song, "A Day at the Seaside".[4] The next few years proved fallow as a succession of single releases failed to chart.[4]

Solo career

In January 1965, Hill was offered an international recording contract with the EMI group which signed him to their Columbia label.[3] His first 'Top 20' chart success with his new label came a year later with "Take Me To Your Heart Again" – Hill's cover of the Édith Piaf hit, "La Vie En Rose" climbed to No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart in 1966.[4][6]

"Roses of Picardy", composed during the First World War, was another Top 20 success, reaching No. 13 in the summer of 1967.[4][6] Further notable songs that he recorded included "Heartaches" (#28, 1966); "Merci Cherie" (written by the Austrian singer Udo Jürgens), which was the winning song in the Eurovision Song Contest 1966, (#36, 1966); "Love Letters in the Sand" (#23, 1967); "The Importance of Your Love" (music by Gilbert Bécaud; English lyrics by Norman Newell) and "Look Around (And You'll Find Me There)".[4][6] The latter track, taken from the soundtrack to the film, Love Story was another Top 20 hit, but proved to be his chart swansong, reaching a pinnacle of No. 12 in the latter half of 1971.[4][6]

His most successful hit was "Edelweiss".[4] This song, from the soundtrack to the musical film, The Sound of Music, was a No. 2 hit in the UK Singles Chart in March 1967.[4][6] "Edelweiss" was to become his signature tune for the rest of his career, that saw him top the bill at the London Palladium and Talk of the Town.[5] His album Edelweiss was also a 'Top 25' hit album for EMI Columbia.[6]

Although known mainly for his voice Hill was also a songwriter and composed many songs with his musical director Ernie Dunstall. These were used on his studio albums and flip sides to his singles of the day. The Dunstall-Hill composition ‘Why Or Where Or When’, was also notably recorded by Mr. Lee Grant and topped the New Zealand charts in 1968 and ‘I Never Did As I Was Told’ was covered by Broadway star Robert Goulet in 1971.[3]

Hill's long-term recording contract with EMI Columbia came to an end in 1974 by which time he had released 14 studios albums and countless singles.[3]

In 1975, Hill signed to a new recording deal with CBS Records where he released a further three studio albums of contemporary song material.[4] Hill also continued to perform regularly in clubs, cabaret and various stage productions.

In 1976, Hill's life and career was celebrated when he was made the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life (presented by Eamonn Andrews).

During the seventies, Hill also made his début as a television host; his first series was for BBC television; They Sold A Million (1973). Next was the hugely successful The Musical Time Machine which began in 1975. Both series co-starred The Young Generation. Vince also hosted his own prime-time television show in Canada called ‘Vince Hill At The Club’ – this was also aired in the United States of America.[3]

1980s and 1990s

From the eighties onwards, Hill concentrated mainly on his live performances and continued to play all the top venues around the world as well as appearing on cruise ships.[3] He would also continue to make guest appearances on popular television shows of the day, such as The Golden Shot, Seaside Special, Rainbow, The Good Old Days, 3-2-1 , Blankety Blank and Cash in the Attic.[7]

In 1982, Hill added acting to his CV, in the BBC radio drama, Tolpuddle (which he also wrote).[3] In 1988, ITV gave Hill his own midday entertainment show ‘Gas Street’ in which he made his début as a TV presenter and interviewer - the show also co-starred Suzi Quatro.[3]

In 1990, Hill took the stage to play Ivor Novello in the stage play, My Dearest Ivor.[5] Hill also wrote the stage musical, Zodiac.[5] Hill’s stage acting continued thereafter and notably included a starring role as the cowardly lion in an adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘The Wizard Of Oz’.[3]

Later years

In 2004, Hill was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent successful keyhole surgery. A year later, following a routine blood test, it was discovered he also had chronic myeloid leukaemia. Following extensive treatment, the illness was brought under control.[8]

In 2010, Hill published his autobiography, Another Hill to Climb (Bank House Books), in collaboration with Nick Charles MBE.

In April 2012, Hill came out of semi-retirement to make a successful return to the stage for 'one night only' where he performed in a big band night at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Vince recalls "It was an absolute success — we sold out and I got a standing ovation. At that point, I just thought, ‘I’ve finished, that’ll do for me’.".[9]

In January 2014, Hill lost his only son, Athol, who was found dead aged 42.[10]

Hill and his wife Annie, who died in September 2016,[11] lived at their Oxfordshire home close to the River Thames. The couple had two grandchildren.[3]

In March 2018, Vince came out of retirement again when he returned to the stage in The Good Old Days of Variety Show at the Cast in Doncaster,[12]


Original albums

at EMI Columbia

  • Have You Met Vince Hill (1966)
  • Heartaches (1966)
  • Edelweiss UK Albums Chart No. 23[6]
  • Always You and Me (1967)
  • The Sweetest Sounds of Rodgers & Hammerstein (1968)
  • You Forgot To Remember (1968)
  • The Singer And The Songs (1971)
  • Look Around (1971)
  • In My Thoughts Of You (1972)
  • And I Love You So (1972)

at EMI

  • They Sold a Million (1973)
  • The Other Side of Me (1973)
  • Thanks a Million (1974)
  • Sing a Song of Sedaka (1974)

at CBS

  • Mandy (1975)
  • Wish You Were Here (1975)
  • Midnight Blue (1976)

at K-tel

  • That Loving Feeling (1978)

at Celebrity Records

  • While The Feeling's Good (1980)
  • Evergreen (1982)

at Grasmere Records

  • I Will Always Love You (1983)

at [[Music For Pleasure [EMI]]]

  • Sings The Ivor Novello Songbook (1988)

at T.N.T.

  • Forbidden Pleasures (1992)

at Pickwick Records

  • Real Songs (Vince Hill Sings Diane Warren) (2003)

Live albums

  • At The Club [Live Album] (1966)

Film soundtracks

Compilation albums

  • Vince Hill: Collection of Vince's early solo recordings with Piccadilly Records (1967 Vinyl LP, Marble Arch Records)
  • Little Bluebird: featuring several New Songs (1970 Vinyl LP EMI Regal)
  • The Very Best Of Vince Hill (1974 Vinyl LP, EMI)
  • Vince Hill - His Greatest Hits (1988 Cassette & CD, EMI)
  • The Very Best Of Vince Hill (1988 Cassette & CD, EMI)
  • The Best Of The EMI Years (1992 CD, EMI)
  • Laurie Johnson's London Big Band - Volume Two: Two songs featuring Vince Hill as a guest vocalist feature on this compilation (1996 CD, Horatio Nelson Records)
  • Back 2 Back Hits - Vince Hill & Des O'Connor (1998 CD, EMI)
  • Evergreen - Timeless Classics featuring re-recordings of hit singles (2004 2CD, President Records)
  • Vince Hill - The Ultimate Collection (2006 CD, EMI)
  • Edelweiss - The Very Best Of Vince Hill: A career-spanning boxset of original hit singles and other highlights (2006 3CD, Reader's Digest)
  • Vince Hill - Edelweiss/Look Around (And You'll Find Me There): First of a CD series of original studio album re-issues (2017 CD, Cherry Red Records)[13]
  • Edelweiss: Songs from the Musicals (The 1990s Sessions) (2017 Download, Demon Music Group)[14]
  • Vince Hill - His Greatest Love Songs (The CBS Years): A romantic collection of Hill's CBS recordings made between 1975-77 (2017 CD & Download, Sony Music)[15]
  • Legacy: My Hits & Rarities (1965-1974): A 55th anniversary collection featuring Hill's ten top 50 UK singles of the time (2017 CD)[16]
  • Cooking at Christmas (2017 Google Play, White Christmas Records)


Year Title
UK Singles Chart[6]
1962 "The River's Run Dry"
(Les Vandyke)
1966 "Take Me To Your Heart Again"
(Édith Piaf/Louis Guglielmi/Mack David)
1966 "Heartaches"
(Al Hoffman/John Clenner)
1966 "Merci Cherie"
(Udo Jürgens/Thomas Hörbiger)
1967 "Edelweiss"
(Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)
1967 "Roses of Picardy"
(Frederic E. Weatherly/Haydn Wood)
1967 "Love Letters in the Sand"
(J. Fred Coots/Nick Kenny/Charles Kenny)
1968 "The Importance of Your Love"
(Amade/Gilbert Bécaud/Norman Newell)
1969 "Doesn't Anybody Know My Name?"
(Rod McKuen)
1969 "Little Blue Bird"
(Vince Hill)
1971 "Look Around (And You'll Find Me There)"
(Francis Lai)


  • Tolpuddle
  • Zodiac
  • My Dearest Ivor

See also


  1. "Official Vince Hill Website Biography". 30 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  2. "Full Official UK Chart History for Vince Hiill". 30 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "The Official Vince Hill Website Biography". Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 "Biography by Dave Thompson". Retrieved 22 March 2009.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pete Chambers. "Biography". BBC. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 253. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. "Vince Hill - IMDb". 30 November 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  8. "Henley Standard -VINCE HILL has revealed how a duck helped him with his battle against cancer". 30 November 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  9. "Henley Standard - Vince's voice will live on". 30 November 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  10. "Henley Standard - VETERAN singer Vince Hill says he has been left "wrecked" by the death of his son". 30 November 2015. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  12. "Visit Doncaster". Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  13. "Vince "Thrilled" about the CD release by Cherry Red Records of two of his classic LPs". 4 May 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  14. "Edelweiss – Songs From The Musicals (The 1990s Sessions)". 12 May 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  15. "Vince Hill dedicates his new Sony Music CD of '...Love Songs' to his late wife Annie". 12 May 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  16. "New Definitive 'LEGACY' Greatest Hits CD celebrating Vince Hill's 55th Anniversary!". 28 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
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