Jim Hamill passes away

According to a friend of the family, Southern Gospel legend Jim Hamill passed away at 5:30 this morning. He had been in steadily declining health for months.

Hamill’s debut in Southern Gospel was with the Weatherfords in the 1950s. After a stint with the Blue Ridge Quartet, he also performed for some time with the Oak Ridge Quartet and the Rebels before 1971, when he landed the job that would make him a legend, singing lead for the Kingsmen Quartet. During his time with the Kingsmen Quartet, he helped introduce and define for the fans many of the performers that have shaped Southern Gospel in the years since–among them Anthony Burger, Ray Dean Reese, Ernie Phillips, Mark Trammell, and Arthur Rice.
With the possible exception of George Younce, no other master of ceremonies has had as much impact on today’s Southern Gospel performers, who seek to capture just a fraction of his stage presence. Hamill was one of that tiny handful of singers who defined exactly what it means to be a Southern Gospel performer.


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22 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Another legend has gone home…. My respects to the Hamill family.

  2. We knew it was coming but still…WOW what a loss. Hope the Kingsmen put together some type of a tribute.

  3. Now there is a top-notch idea. They’ve been talking about re-doing the 50th Anniversary concert; if they put it together as a tribute to Jim Hamill and got all the Kingsmen legends of the past together to share memories and sing his songs (with Arthur Rice, Mark Trammell, and others sharing the lead duties), that would be quite the concert. Then if they recorded a CD/DVD and donated some of the proceeds to help the family cover his medical bills, that would be one of the nicest gestures a group could offer to the family of the person who put them on the map.

  4. Daniel…I must admit, it really moved me the way you “talked that idea up.” I too hope this will happen maybe the “sparked” idea from this blog will help. Let’s get the word to the right people.

  5. I think that Hamill’s debut in Gospel Music was as a teenager with Cecil Blackwood in the Songfellows Qt. I have a 78 of that group.

  6. It is sad to hear of Jim’s Passing…… I had known him through traveling thoughout the years with several groups. He was a very kind and honest man. He knew talent but he also knew how to develop talented singers into showmen. He lived in my hometown and I even went to school with his son. He definately has left a mark on Southern Gospel that influenced many many singers and fans of southern gospel. I know he is in heaven with FOXY and all the other great singers we have lost singing praises to Jesus. My thoughts are with his family.

  7. I think Hamill was a legend long before he joined the Kingsmen.

  8. Well, honestly, the idea inspires me.

  9. Yes, I do remember hearing about that. I had forgotten about it this morning.

  10. I was fortunate enough to see the Kingsmen many times years ago and I’m glad I did. Jim Hamill will be greatly missed. My prayers are with his family. I do hope somebody does a tribute to him,he deserves it.

  11. My deepest sympthy to Big Jim Hamil’s family. You had a true blue gospel singer in your family that everyone loved in every state of the United Statesl He will be greatly missed.

  12. I’m praying for his family.

  13. I have a book co-written by JD Sumner, and it states in the book that back in the early fifties, Jim Hamill was an Assembly of God Minister in Memphis and was the Presley’s family Pastor. He remembers Elvis when Elvis was a young man.

    I knew Jim, much like I knew Jake, and JD. Between the “Coming Home” video by Larry Gatlin, and all the other Gaither videos…….I can just imagine what that heavenly choir must sound like………James, Hovie, Howard, Vestal, George, Glenn, Jake, JD, Fox,and now Big Jim……….there are others…………….all the ledgens are gone………..Praise God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I am vocational Worship Pastor/Leader in Chicago but I was born and raised in Western North Carolina (where Jim Hammill lived for many years) I grew up on Southern Gospel music and I went to high school with Jim’s daughter, Jennifer. Back home, Jim was dearly loved and very highly respected as a Man of God and one of the indellible faces of Southern Gospel music/tradition. He will sorely missed but the Heavenly Hosts have gained/added a marvelous Baritone to their mix.

  15. Whenever I would see Jim Hamill with The Kingsmen I always thought to myself…What would The Kingsmen sound like without ” Big” Jim Hamill stepping up to the microphone and just adding his awesome voice to The Kingsmen? I especially knew in my heart that Jim Hamill was ”really” getting into singing with the rest of The Kingsmen when I would always see pictures of him with his suitcoat and tie off he was just wearing his pants and vest while the rest of the guys was dressed in their complete suits. I’ll always miss Jim Hamill’s voice; He was definitely a KINGSMEN legend! The albums of The Kingsmen that I especially remember Jim Hamill on was…
    ”Chattanooga LIVE”, ” LIVE Naturally”
    ” LIVE at The University Of Alabama” and ” Mississippi LIVE” for some reason I always thought that The Kingsmen didn’t sound the same without
    ” Big” Jim Hamill!!

  16. Big Jim and the Kingsmen will always be # 1
    and Southern Gospel Music.

  17. I saw Jim Hamill when he was with The Rebels many many times. The Rebels would stay at my aunt and uncles house when they were in the area (Punxsutawney, PA)and our family got to know them fairly well. I went with my aunt and uncle to a concert one evening when I was just about 9 years old (1960) and Big Jim rode home with us and I fell asleep on his lap and he carried me to our front door and handed me to my dad. He has an awesome voice and we were so sad when he wasn’t with The Rebels anymore. I always wondered where he went and have thought about him many times. This is the first I have found out where he had been all these years and I am truly sorry he is gone. I have such fond memories of Southern Gospel concerts. My sympathy to his family. Heaven is going to be amazing – Sitting at the Feet of Jesus and listening to all these wonderful gospel singers.

  18. I realy miss jd, burger, pyne, younce, priestly nd now jim

  19. Does the kinsmen still exist?

  20. JThe three or four years that I was blessed to have travelled with gospel music Big Jim Hamill was always an inspiration as well as a man of his word and someone to look up to. He is and has been missed.

  21. I remember seeing the Kingsmen with the Kingsboys at the Whiting Auditorium in Flint, Michigan when I was little. Jim Hamill’s passion and personality was on full display. I will never forget that concert. Been following the Kingsmen from then on.