- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Grand Ole Opry Member George Hamilton IV, who was one of country music’s first international ambassadors, has died. He was 77.

A news release from the Opry says Hamilton died Wednesday at a Nashville hospital after a heart attack.

Hamilton had been an Opry member since 1960, when he made the switch from pop music to country. He said the decision came after catching a performance of the Opry at Ryman Auditorium. Hamilton worked with producer Chet Atkins on a number of hits and scored his first country No. 1 with “Abilene” in 1963.

He brought country music to Russia and Czechoslovakia and recorded the first country album in Eastern Europe. Over the years, he hosted country-themed television shows in Britain and Canada.

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