An old-style singer/crooner along the lines of Bing Crosby, Eddie Fisher and Perry Como, Ronnie Hilton was born Adrian Hill in Hull on the 26th of January, 1926. He left school aged only 14 to work in an aircraft factory during World War II before being called up into the Highland Light Infantry. After the war, he began working in a sewing-machine plant in Leeds, but singing was always his first love and he managed to get a second job, performing in the evenings with the Johnny Addlestone Band at the club the Starlight Roof.
Spotted one night by Walter Ridley, the A&R manager for HMV Records, he signed a solo deal and by the early '50s began to enjoy some singles success, like virtually all of his contemporaries, singing covers of American hits including "I Still Believe", "Veni Vedi Vici", "A Blossom Fell", "Stars Shine In Your Eyes", "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" and "Young And Foolish". In 1956, he had his only chart-topper with the song "No Other Love," but the coming of rock & roll swept away most of his type of old fashioned crooning and although he continued to have single hits throughout the 1950s and even made a comeback with the children's song "A Windmill in Old Amsterdam" in 1965, his days as a major pop singer were behind him. This paved the way for his only ever success on the album charts, a recording of the songs from the film [RoviLink="VW"]Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which was a budget release on the specialist MFP label and thus only eligible for the separate budget charts in 1970.
He continued to appear in variety shows and summer seasons and by the 1990s he had developed a new career on radio as the voice of BBC Radio 2's [RoviLink="VW"]Sounds of the Fifties series, a nostalgic look back at the decade which even gave him the opportunity to play several of his own records. He died on the 21st of February, 2001, aged 75, but not forgotten by everyone as in 2007, his old label, EMI Gold (which had formally been the MFP label) released a double CD of his work, Ultimate Collection with 50 tracks including most of his hits. ~ Sharon Mawer
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