Gordon Hill (February 10, 1927 - November 24, 2014)
Gordon Hill, born in 1927, was a native of Missouri. He started singing bass at sixteen for a local quartet in St Louis. Before long, he became a member of the US Army and was stationed in Ft. McClellan, Alabama. At age eighteen, while in the Army, he attended a singing featuring the famous Rangers Quartet. He had the opportunity to talk with their bass, Arnold Hyles, who commented that their speaking voices were similar. The conversation strengthened Gordon’s desire to pursue a career as a quartet bass singer.
Soon after Gordon Hill was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946, he began singing bass for the Jacksonville (AL) Harmony Boys. He attended the Stamps-Baxter Singing School in Chattanooga, TN, in January, 1947. C.R. Melton, owner of the All American Quartet came to the school and heard him sing. Gordon soon became a member of the All American Quartet in Knoxville along with Earl Terry, Bob Crews, C.R. Melton, and Alice Melton.
He left the quartet after a few months and returned to the Jacksonville Harmony Boys.
Bobby Strickland, formerly of the Sand Mountain and Harmoneers quartets organized a quartet in Birmingham called the Southlanders Quartet. Bobby Strickland sang baritone; Bobby’s brother Pace Strickland, tenor; Bervin Kendrick, lead; and Charles McClain, piano. Bobby hired Gordon to sing bass.
In 1948, after the Southlanders had existed about six months, Hovie Lister hired Bobby Strickland, Bervin Kendrick, and Gordon Hill as original members of the Statesmen Quartet in Atlanta. When Gordon left the Statesmen in 1949, he was replaced by Aycel Soward.
Soon, Gordon joined the Southern Joy Quartet in Greenville, SC. Other members included Cat Freeman, tenor; Jack Pittman, lead; Eb Landreth(owner and baritone); and Doyce Thompson, piano. As a member of Southern Joy, he had additional duties at the quartet owner’s business. The work involved crawling under houses to install fuel piping for furnaces and space heaters. After a few months he told the owner he was a bass singer--not a “ground hog.” He left the Southern Joy and re-joined the Jacksonville Harmony Boys for a short time. Then he sang for the McDonald Brothers Quartet in Pocahontas, Arkansas.
In late 1951 he re-joined the All American Quartet in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, replacing Aycel Soward. During this hitch with the All American Quartet there were five pianists, four first tenors (including Bill Shaw and Earl Terry) and three lead singers.
He left the All American in 1954 and joined the Revelaires Quartet in Atlanta. The other members included Dan Huskey, tenor; Bobby Shaw, lead; Cat Freeman, baritone; and Wally Varner, piano. He re-joined the All American Quartet in 1955 and stayed for a short time.
When he left the All American, he worked as a Fuller Brush salesman in Missouri and Illinois for over two years.
In 1958, Gordon Hill joined the Sheriff's Quartet in Asheville, NC. He also carried double duty again. This time it was by becoming a Buncombe County deputy during his tenure with the quartet, which lasted until 1962. The quartet disbanded when the sheriff lost his bid for re-election. Other members working for the sheriff during the period were Lewis McKinney, Kermit Jamerson, and Eldridge Fox.
That was the end of Gordon Hill's professional gospel quartet bass singing career.
After leaving the Sheriff's Quartet, he was a car salesmen for a few years in Asheville (along with Kermit Jamerson) and in Tuscon, Arizona where he moved in 1970. In 1971 Gordon was a charter member of the Tucson Opera Company which later became the Arizona Opera Company. He sang in their first eight operas. During the mid-1970s Gordon began a career as a truck driver. He was the KLLM Trucking's Driver of the Year in 1991 out of 1500 drivers. He retired in 1992. For several years after retirement he played softball and walked over fifteen miles per day. He continued to sing in church until 1995, when he stopped due to some issues with his voice.
Gordon Hill passed away on November 24, 2014 at the age of 87.