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Edelweiss singer Vince Hill dies aged 89

British pop singer Vince Hill has died at the age of 89.

The musician, who reached number two in the UK charts in 1967 with a cover of The Sound Of Music song Edelweiss, passed away peacefully at home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on Saturday.

He had worked with leading lights from the world of entertainment including Dame Barbara Windsor, Dame Vera Lynn, Tony Christie and Cilla Black.

Music – Vince Hill – 1967
Singer Vince Hill with pop group The Dollies (PA)

A statement, on his website, said: “Vince created a musical legacy…He and his tunes will remain forever in our hearts.”

It added that he was a “one of a kind” and a “wonderful guy” who was “loved universally” along with asking for privacy for his friends and family.

Born in Coventry in 1934, Hill began singing as a teenager and released his debut album The Rivers Run Dry in May 1962.

His subsequent records 1967’s Edelweiss and 1978’s That Love Feeling also placed in the charts.

Hill also had hits with the tracks Take Me To Your Heart Again, Roses Of Picardy, Love Letters In The Sand and Importance Of Your Love throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Johnny Mans, who produced and promoted Hill’s show, said in a statement to the PA news agency he was “saddened” by his death.

Mr Mans added: “We go back to the early 70s when we first met at the Barn Cabaret Restaurant in Braintree, and over the years I presented his numerous theatre tours and always found him to be a true gentleman and an incredible professional, with a superb singing voice.”

Politics – General Election 1979
Conservative Leader Margaret Thatcher, pictured, centre, alongside Nigel Davenport, (his wife extreme left), Molly Weir, Liz Fraser, Pete Murray, Vince Hill (second from right) and Lulu.

“Both Vince and his wife Annie became close friends to me and my family and he will be missed by all who knew him. He was a star among men.”

Hill released 25 studio albums, performed at Sydney Opera House, London’s Royal Albert Hall and the London Palladium and was also a TV and radio presenter.

He had the BBC Radio 2 show Vince Hill’s Solid Gold Music Show along with an ITV chat show called Gas Street.

Hill also performed a rendition of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! with Lulu for Margaret Thatcher before she became prime minister.

They sang Hello Maggie at a Conservative Trade Unionists event in Wembley in April 1979 and Hill would follow this up by making the 1983 general election campaign song It’s Maggie For Me.

Tributes have come in from radio DJ Tony Blackburn and lyricist Sir Tim Rice.

In a Sunday Twitter post, Blackburn wrote: “So sorry to hear that singer Vince Hill passed away yesterday.

“We were in the same agency in the 60s and he was a very nice guy.”

Sir Tim wrote: “V. sad to hear Vince Hill has died. Top ballad singer -impeccable phrasing & tone. Lovely fellow.

“At EMI I had extremely junior role as PA to his producer the late Bob Barratt, assembling music stands & getting coffee for Vince’s sessions including his huge hit Edelweiss in ’67.”

Retired boxer Frank Bruno, who worked with Hill on charity shows, reflected on him being an “ultimate professional”.

He wrote: “I remember once a mic stand suddenly collapsed on him when he was about to start to sing a song, he said “let’s do that intro again” and he carried on cool as a cucumber.”

Hill also recorded songs Love Me True for 1966 action film Cast A Giant Shadow, starring Kirk Douglas, and When The World Is Ready for Yul Brynner’s 1967 adventure movie The Long Duel.

He would also had a theatre career as the lion in a Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Wizard Of Oz and as the composer Ivor Novello in My Dearest Ivor.

In September 2016, Hill’s wife Annie died from a degenerative lung condition after their more than 50 years of marriage.

The couple had previously lost their son, Athol, in 2014.