Goldie Hill, "The Golden Hillbilly," Dead at 72

Was Wife of Country Music Hall of Fame's Carl Smith

Singer Goldie Hill, the wife of Country Music Hall of Fame member Carl Smith, died Thursday night (Feb. 24) in Nashville's Baptist Hospital of complications from cancer. She was 72.

Born Jan. 11, 1933, in Coy City, Texas, Argolda Voncile Hill began singing with her brothers, Tommy and Ken Hill, while she was in her teens. In 1952, she and Tommy joined Webb Pierce's band and began performing with him on the Louisiana Hayride on radio station KWKH in Shreveport.

When Pierce journeyed to Nashville to record in 1952, Hill went along with him. While there, she auditioned for Pierce's label, Decca Records, and was signed immediately. She was soon dubbed "The Golden Hillbilly." Hill's first single was "Why Talk to My Heart," an "answer song" to the Ray Price hit, "Talk to Your Heart." It failed to chart.

In 1953, however, Hill went No. 1 for three weeks with "I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes," an answer to Slim Willet's wildly popular "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes." The answer song was written by her brother Tommy, who also wrote Pierce's big 1954 hit, "Slowly."

Hill never duplicated the success of her first hit. In 1954, she teamed with Justin Tubb for the single "Looking Back to See" (written by Maxine Brown of the Browns). It peaked at No. 4. Over the next five years, Hill charted only thee times, once with Tubb ("Sure Fire Kisses") and twice with Red Sovine ("Are You Mine," "Yankee Go Home").

On Sept. 19, 1957, Hill married Carl Smith and retired from show business. She resumed recording in 1968 for Epic Records. Although she cut two albums for Epic, only one single made the charts. "Lovable Fool," released under the name Goldie Hill Smith, reached the No. 73 spot, but she never charted after that.

Hill is survived by her husband and three children, Carl Jr., Larry Dean and Lori Lynn. Smith and his first wife, the late June Carter Cash, are the parents of singer-songwriter Carlene Carter.

Funeral details have not been announced.

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