Forgotten Artists: Goldie Hill (1933- 2005)

Paul W. Dennis | August 20th, 2008

Goldie Hill

Had Carl Smith and Goldie Hill been born 30 or 40 years later, they might have been like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw–the dominant married couple in country music. Carl Smith was one of the biggest stars of the 1950s; bigger perhaps than Tim McGraw is today. Goldie Hill was glamorous and talented, with a powerful and pleasing voice, unquestionably one of the three or four best female voices ever in country music history. Those were the days before sleek luxury tour buses and private jets commodified touring, making it hard to raise a family. So when they married in 1957, it spelled the end of Hill’s career.

She was born Angolda Voncile Hill in Karnes County, Texas on January 11, 1933. Her brother Tommy Hill preceded her entry into country music, gaining prominence as a musician and songwriter. Goldie made her debut in 1952, joining her brother Tommy as a member in Webb Pierce’s band. That same year, when visiting Nashville with Pierce, she auditioned and was signed to Decca–the same label as Pierce–by Paul Cohen. Her first single “Why Talk To My Heart,” backed with “Don’t Send Me No Roses,” failed to chart, but her second single, “I Let The Stars Get In My Eyes,” rocketed to the top, occupying the number one slot for three weeks in late 1952. It was an answer to “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes,” a hugely successful record for four different artists: Slim Willets, Skeets McDonald, Ray Price and Perry Como.

Dubbed “The Golden Hill Billy,” Goldie continued to record successfully. The country charts were only ten positions deep in 1952 and 1953; although none of her records in 1953 charted, they sold well. In 1954 she was paired with fellow Decca artist Justin Tubb, the son of the legendary Ernest Tubb, for some successful duets, including “Looking Back To See” and “Sure Fire Kisses.”

More hits followed, but in 1957 Goldie married Carl Smith, who had recently divorced June Carter. Goldie toured briefly with the Phillip Morris Country Music Caravan, but left the show to tend to her growing family. This marked the end of her career as a live performer, although she did return to the recording studio for Epic Records in the mid-1960s, issuing her last records. Her final chart appearance was in 1968 when “Lovable Fool” charted at #73.

Carl Smith and Goldie Hill remained married until her death on February 26, 2005 after a long battle with cancer. Carl had basically retired by the end of the 1970s and he and Goldie spent their later years raising quarter horses and living the life of ranchers. Goldie lived long enough to witness her husband’s enshrinement into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003 (about 20 years later than should have been the case). Had she not chosen family over career, she probably would have joined him there.

Every now and then CMT, Country Universe or someone else will count down the Greatest Women of Country Music. Goldie’s name is usually conspicuous by its absence or low ranking, but know this: none of them were better singers than Goldie Hill Smith, and few of them were as good.

1 Ping

  1. [...] Goldie Hill: “Had Carl Smith and Goldie Hill been born 30 or 40 years later, they might have been like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw--the dominant married couple in country music. Carl Smith was one of the biggest stars of the 1950s; bigger perhaps than Tim McGraw is today. Goldie Hill was glamorous and talented, with a powerful and pleasing voice, unquestionably one of the three or four best female voices ever in country music history.” [...]
  1. Rick
    August 20, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Paul, I had never heard of Goldie prior to this article but if you say she was one of the best, I believe it! Its a shame she never realized her full commercial potential, but the fact she and Carl had such a long marriage means that her career sacrifice was justified by her commitment to her family. It would be nice if the Time-Life folks (or any label) put out a compilation of great songs by country artists that almost no one alive remembers any more featuring artists like Goldie. I think Eddie Stubbs should give her a spin on WSM now and then……

  2. Chris N.
    August 21, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Another inspired choice, Paul. Keep it up.

  3. Kelly
    August 22, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I recently visited the country music hall of fame. That, coupled with these recent, well-done articles by Paul have reinvigorated my interest in the “roots of country music”. There is so much “gold” (pun intended) out there, and Paul is helping us all unearth it.

  4. Paul W Dennis
    August 23, 2008 at 4:10 am

    To be fair, Stubbs has played her songs on occasion. Goldie didn’t leave a large number of recordings behind her – I would guess less than 75 songs, all told – and there is little of her material on CD – the British Archives of Country Muisc issued a CD-R on her which picks up the first 24 songs (the disc sounds like it was dubbed off vinyl) and I don’t know of anything else

  5. Courtney
    August 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I like Goldie Hill. “I Let The Stars Get In My Eyes” is really good. It’s becoming one of my favorites.

  6. mary
    September 22, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    this is real country you can understand all the words, the music is great. Yes I am old but i remember when we had real country music. there is still a lot of good things out there but not like this. GREAT STUFF

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