Goldie Hill: 1933 to 2005
Goldie Hill long ago stepped away from the spotlight well before her husband Carl Smith, a 1950s-60s Opry star and 2003 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. That’s one reason obits following her February 24 death of cancer drew a blank to many.
Dubbed “The Golden Hillbilly,” Argolda Voncile Hill emerged from Texas soon after Kitty Wells and several years before Patsy Cline. Her older brother, honky-tonk singer-guitarist Tommy Hill, a Decca artist, briefly worked with Webb Pierce and wrote Pierce’s hit “Slowly”.
Goldie joined Tommy’s band when he left Pierce. Tommy had another original, “I Let The Stars Get In My Eyes”, written to answer the 1952 country smash “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes.” Hoping Wells would cover it, he had Goldie record it at one of his Decca sessions as a demo. Instead, producer Paul Cohen signed Goldie and had her record it. The song became Hill’s only #1, though she possessed a flashy image and greater fire and vivacity than the sedate Wells.
Nashville clearly still expected most female solo singers to stick to duets with male singers, and those constituted Hill’s major hits. Among the best were a vibrant cover of the Browns’ “Looking Back To See” and “Sure Fire Kisses” with Ernest Tubb’s son Justin. She teamed with Red Sovine for the 1955 top-20 “Are You Mine”.
Her 1957 marriage to Smith ended her performing days, though she recorded for Decca until 1964. Busy raising their three kids, with Carl still active musically, she maintained her friendships in the business and didn’t worry about her own career. Except for two 1968 Epic albums and three singles, that was it. Smith kept going until he retired (except for occasional TV appearances) in the early 1980s. For years afterward, they raised horses at their farm near Franklin, Tennessee.