Jim Hamill, RIP

As several of you have noted already to me in email, Jim Hamill died this morning. When we started this discussion a few weeks back, I had no idea he was as ill as it now appears he was. So I can’t claim any real foresight here, but in retrospect, it was a well-timed conversation, not least of all because it speaks for itself and strikes me as a pretty decent running eulogy.

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  1. Thom wrote:

    “Well done, Thy good and faithful servant.”

    Rest in Peace, Dear Friend.

  2. Payton wrote:

    Man I hate to hear that. In my opinion he was the master of comic relief on stage. A true pro of M.C. work if there has ever been one.

  3. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Hmmm.. this is actually kind of a shock. He must have been worse off than people were letting on.

  4. David wrote:

    From 1981’s Live…Naturally!

    “Singin’ & preachin’, like my grandpa used to say, is chicken one week, & feathers the next; but my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, & one day it’ll all be mine!”

    Today, a poor boy owns everything-see ya later, Big Jim!

  5. Norman wrote:

    According to James. Jim’s son, he had really suffered pain the last few weeks. He had lost over 100 lbs. and had a bad case of pneumonia. The financial burden still weighs heavy on the family and what better time to give than the holidays. If interested you can send a love gift made payable to the JIM HAMILL FAMILY, 126 south Joyce street. East
    Flat Rock, North Carolina 28726

  6. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    I have missed him since he retired from the Kingsmen. I have been exploring some of is lead singing from the Rebels and Kingsmen as well as his baritone singing with the Oaks. He had a powerful voice and could sing much higher than I had thought.

    He was a great lead singer as well as a great MC.

  7. FormerDJ wrote:

    Hamill was a true talent. Hopefully, the industry will pay him the tribute he deserves.

  8. Wes Burke wrote:

    We truly have lost a legend. Thank you Doug for starting the thread on Hamill a few weeks back, it truly did end up being a fitting tribute to a great singer and quite possibly the best MC at working a crowd we’ll ever see.

  9. Amy wrote:

    There are those who want to show respect to the family of Jim Hamill by having a fundraising concert with the profit of this event going to the Hamill family.

  10. Amy wrote:

    Should anyone be interested in further details or assisting in the fundraising effort please send me an email at ustiturtle@aol.com

  11. Ben Harris wrote:

    There will never be another like Jim…he was certainly one of a kind. Our group had the honor of woodshedding a few songs with him a couple of years back, and he was both funny, gracious, and in control all rolled into one. He will be missed.

  12. Oldtimer wrote:

    I attended a Gaither homecoming event in Mobile, Alabama on the Thursday night (Hamil had died early that morning.) The homecoming event was great - far exceeded my expecations to be honest - but I was sorely disappointed that there was no mention of Hamil’s passing,much less any word of tribute.

  13. Steven wrote:

    I really wish that gaither would have grabbed Hamill and pushed him on his tour legends show. I’m sure that Jim wouldn’t be the type for big fame, fanfair or gaitherization, but it would have been only fitting.

  14. aaay nonemus wrote:

    RE: Post #10- Them not saying anything is not surprising, as the Kingsmen nor Hamill were ever in Gaither’s circle. The bottom line is that if you’re not really in that “clique”, chances are you never will get a mention. Look at both Howard and Vestal’s funerals. Big, grand, basically Gaither produced blowouts, and IMO, Jim Hamill is just as big of a name as Howard and Vestal, but because he didn’t kiss up to Gaither, his passing probably won’t even be acknowledged by them.

  15. Vernon wrote:

    Jim was my favorite lead singer every since I heard the Kingsman sing when I was 9 years old. When I was about 21 he let me and my group sing on stage in front of about 3000 people in Dayton OH.
    It was a night to remember. But that was Jim, always giving others a chance. Jim was great!
    Thanks Jim for the years of singing and for making us laugh and draw nearer to the Lord. In the words of one of his song, “There won’t be no time for crying, no more sickness no more dying, joy awaits me on that mansion far away. When I rest from all of my labor, the Lord’s gonna be my next door neighbor, gonna be moving one of these days” Moving day has come.

  16. Dave wrote:

    JIm will certainly be missed by many S.G. fans. He was truly one of a kind. I had the pleasure of meeting him several times as well as seeing him singing in concert with the Kingsmen Live on many occasions. They are all highpoints of my memories.

    One poster stated that the Kingsmen were not part of Gaither’s cirlce, that may be true, but the Kingmen performed a few songs on a few different Gaither videos, as well as Jim Hamill.

  17. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #14: Well, Big Jim didn’t want a big funeral anyway; just a simple one with the Kingsmen singing at it.

  18. Joe wrote:

    I was the fortunate one to make the winning bid for the live double album offered on Ebay, and discussed on the prior thread. That payment went totally to the Hamill family, and I plan to send them some more at this sad time. That would actually be a good exercise for all of us, for I’m certain we could all afford to send some little thing.

    Over the past month, I have pulled out old Kingsmen CD’s, LP’s, and have gotten a few “new” old ones. What a thrill to listen to him/them again.

    He was THE master of MC’ing, a crowd-pleaser, a consummate quartet man, a true comedian…but what a voice. What a voice. Listening to his old CD’s, only reinforces what an exceptionally brilliant lead singer he really was.

    Just imagine how he’s singing now! As some have mentioned, this “poor boy” has shaken hands with his Savior, and is singing today in the choir of the redeemed.

    How beautiful Heaven will be.

  19. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    I don’t know that there was any tension between Gaither and Hamil. Bill Gaither introduced the Kingsmen on the Alabama Live album.

  20. Cindy wrote:

    God bless the Hamill Family. Jim was a great man.

  21. AD wrote:

    I don’t think the “Gaither comments” are fair. ad

  22. RF wrote:


    Jim was featured on a lot of Gaither videos and just as many of us, the news was slow to filter out–I sent Doug a message maybe 12 hours late, and being onthe road it was probably missed.

    So many want to criticize Bill Gaither, but few understand the whole story. As much as Bill Gaither is so aware of the history of southern gospel music, no doubt he had great respect for Big Jim.

  23. GM wrote:

    I agree, why talk negative about Bill Gaither as related to Mr Hamills passing. Bill Gaither can’t be everything to everyone. Sure he has helped a select few by putting them back in the spotlight during their later years. He also makes business decsions as to who can sell records and draw crowds. Mr Hamill was on several of the earlier Homecoming tapings as were The Kingsmen. Maybe Bill doesn’t believe they are a good fit to join him on tour, or maybe they don’t want to join him. Either way, why create a negative slant towards Gaither regarding Jim Hamill?

  24. Oldtimer wrote:

    I didn’t make any judgment call on Gaither’s lack of mention of Hamil’s passing - just noted that there was no mention and I would have thought it approporiate to at least reference it. Gaither has built his empire on capitalizing on lingering nosalgia for bygone eras. It seems that the passing of the front man of the group that dominated southern gospel music in the 70s and ealy 80s would have been worth noting at an event such as this. Having said that - again read my original post - the event overall far exceeded my expectations. Let’s not make more than there is here - sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  25. Randy wrote:

    Jim Hamill was as good as they came. He was a wonderful singer and a great emcee. He will truly be missed.

  26. Derek wrote:

    In Gaither’s defense, Jim and the Kingsmen were on some of the videos…maybe not as prominently as others, but they were there. I remember several camera shots of Jim singing in the choir and I believe the Kingsmen (less Hamill) stepped out front to sing “I Stand Upon The Rock of Ages” or it may have been “I Will Rise Up from My Grave”…but it was during that period anyway. I don’t think Jim’s style is/was quite Gaither’s normal m-o, but with or without Gaither (IMO) anyone who ever saw Jim on stage will remember him.

  27. John wrote:

    No disrespect intended to Jim or Bill, but a Homecoming Choir only needs one director and I think Jim would have found it difficult to “sit on the sidelines”, so to speak.

  28. Wade wrote:

    Jim was my hero. I have stolen many of his lines and attitude even for secular events I MC & Stand Up Comedy I do. He set a standard so HI that many would have never been capable of meeting. The way he made ALlL The Kingsman know ALL the songs was almost mind blowing. I was very lucky to be able to stand back stage several times and watch & listen to him CALL the SET !!!

    While I loved him with out question I have to say The Oaks should pay for his funeral if the family is having a hard time. Many have said if the Hamill and the Goodman’s had not started refusing to perform with the Oaks cause they said they were too contemporary and did not live the life. It was only then did the ORB’s go on to be the BiG Hit in Country Music… and it should show the world how BIG SGM would be if not for all the inbreeding and territory protecting going on.

    I know Jim is up there now leading LOVE LIFTED ME !!!

  29. Oldtimer wrote:

    # 28 - Inbreeding and territory protecting, huh? Now there’s a thread I would like to read.

  30. wackythinker wrote:

    #28 - I don’t understand your statement that the Oaks should pay for Jim’s funeral. Your next 2 sentences are incomplete and incoherent. Could you re-phrase and clarify? Thanks.

  31. Janice wrote:

    I wouldn’t even know who Jim Hamill was if I hadn’t seen him on Gaither videos. I know at least two videos where he told stories, not just sang in the choir. I know that whoever is on top (Gaither) gets pot-shots, and I guess it comes with the territory. But it isn’t really fair. I wouldn’t be surprised that even someone as powerful as Bill Gaither would have hurt feelings to be criticized as he is. He has done a lot for Southern Gospel.

  32. Wade wrote:

    #30… A Legend has it… The Goodman’s & Hamill went to the promoters and said they would not perform on any show the Oaks were on… All 3 were very hot and drew a different crowd. Forcing the Oaks to start performing Country Music.

    If Goodman’s & Hamill had not done that the Oaks might have never made it as big as they did… So in a back handed way the Oaks could rise above it by helping pay for some of the funeral expenses.

    It Also shows HOW BIG SGM COULD be as the Oaks really just sang that style to secular words… Most ppl love the sound of 4 part harmony… but dislike all THE BS that goes on INSIDE the MUSIC.

    I hope this clears it up for you WACKY ONE???

  33. Dale Steenhoven wrote:

    So was it pnemonia that took our beloved friend, Jim Hamill? I know “my times are in His hands”, and “it’s appointed unto man once to die”, but does anyone know the exact cause of death?

  34. ss wrote:

    Jim loved the music and he understood. He was the master of the stage. The youth could learn from the wise. He watched the crowd, made calls, and followed through with the field goal. He didn’t retreat until he owned the folks in the seat.

  35. Jeff Fields wrote:

    I was just a young boy when i first got my first kingsmen album,age 12 to be exact. Big & Live was the major turnaround for me as a christian. I had the chance to see them onstage 8 times in my life & to me there was no other man that gave his all like jim. See you later Mr Hamell.

  36. dirtdigger wrote:

    Jim Hamill will surely be missed! He and the Kingsmen Quartet have often led me to worship through their music and testimony. That is a legacy that lasts beyond the mortal lives we we live.

  37. Barbara wrote:

    For some reason I just Googled Jim’s name.

    I’ve been friends with Jim and Jan since his days with the Rebels. I taught Jan how to fold diapers when Jennifer was born.

    Jim would not want all of this fuss. For sure all the talk regarding the Gaithers.

    He was a simple man that loved what he did. Many don’t know of the songs he wrote, the kids he trained, or the many musical arrangements.

    I have missed being close to Jan for many years now. She needs our love now as her health is bad.

    God put on my heart to make a trip to Hendersonville in order to see Jim one more time. This was just a couple of months before his passing.

    My last words to him were that he had to get better in order to sing at my wedding. I told his aide that I was still waiting for Jim to find the groom.

    He will still be with us thru the voices of others.

    Thank you Jim for being a part of our lives.

  38. Paul D. Webb wrote:

    Jim Hamill, one of the greatest in Southern Gospel music left behind a tremdous legacy. A loss in Gospel music occured at his death. I deeply missed and still miss his aura and way of emitting the Gospel message.

    SG music is basically the only type of gospel music I listen to. Kingsmen is by far my favourite SG group/quartet even through their numerous personnel changes.

    Has anyone ever wondered why Kingsmen have not received their do recognition (as a group, not individually)? They do not seem to care. Their ministry of the Gospel is their mission! They spread the Gospel through their music magnificantly!

  39. JRM wrote:

    I just ran across this post - Was honored to have Jim and The Kingsmen record a song on one of the live albums. He indeed was one of the greats! Thanks for the memories.

  40. Karen Hollis wrote:

    I just googled Jim Hamill last night to see where he might be and found his obituary - so he is in heaven singing his heart out as never before. I was 9 yrs. old when I met him for the first performing with the Rebels. They would stay with my aunt and uncles when in the area (Punxsutawney, PA) and I got to know them quite well. That was in 1960 and the last time I saw him was in 1967. I rode home with him in my aunt and uncles car the first night I met him and I fell asleep on his lap and when we got to my home, he carried me to the front door and handed me to my dad. I wanted to hear him sing again, but I’ve waited much too long to try and locate him - my loss. He was awesome and my sympathy, though much belated, to his family. He touched so many lives.

  41. Joyce Davis wrote:

    I grew up watching all the big groups in the 1960’s. Jim was one of my favorites. I can see him now walking around backstage in Winston Salem, NC drinking tea out of that quart jar. Looking forward to seeing him in Heaven!!

  42. Gerald Cheney wrote:

    Big Jim; Who could ever fill his shoes when it comes to Southern Gospel Music; but then none can ever fill anyones shoes or take their place. He was truly a master.

    I was priviledged to know and be friends with Jim. He frequented my church when he sang with the Rebels Quartet who were headquarted in Tampa. To this day I continue to pray for his dear wife and family.

  43. CD Fisher wrote:

    My family were all friends with the Kingsmen Quartet back when they had Jim Hamill, Foxy, Squire Parsons, and Ray Dean Reese as singers and Anthony Burger, Beaver, Greg Fox, and Bill McCauley on instruments. They used to visit us and eat at our house when they were in Chattanooga. These were all great men of God and I still grieve at the passing of Jim, Anthony, and Foxy. These men were heroes of the faith and lived the message they sang about. I look forward to seeing them again in heaven.

  44. Phillip nixon wrote:

    There is something I don’t understand, why the Gaithers did not have a tribute for the kingsmen 50th year in gospel music. I could be wrong but I never heard or saw anything about it. In my opinion Big Jim and the Kingmen were ranked with some of the best that has ever been or ever will be.

  45. Ann Wells wrote:

    I do agree with all the ones that question Gaither. I do believe Jim should have been given a lot more time on the Gaither Videos. HE WAS THE BEST WHEN IT CAME TO SOUTHERN GOSPEL MUSIC. He was as good as Howard and Vestel. Don’t get it. Another thing is Mote is getting a lot more recognition than Anthony Burger ever got. They show him all the time. Anthony was much better. I have lost a lot of respect for Gaither.

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