Hamilton Henry Gilkyson III

M, (17 June 1917 - 15 October 1999)
     Hamilton Henry Gilkyson III was born on 17 June 1917 at Mont Clare, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.1 He was the son of Hamilton Henry Gilkyson Jr. and Phoebe Underwood Hunter.1 Hamilton Henry Gilkyson III married, at age 30, Jane Haughton, daughter of Richard Haughton and Marie [—?—], on Saturday, 31 January 1948 at Bryn Mawr, Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.1 Hamilton Henry Gilkyson III died on 15 October 1999 at Austin, Travis County, Texas, at age 82 years, 3 months and 28 days.
     Hamilton Henry Gilkyson III was also known as Terry. He was in military service with the United States Army between 1941 and 1945 serving briefly in the cavalry before joining the Army Air Corps where he remained until he was discharged.1 He was a song writer between 1947 and 1970.1 In 1948 he received his first professional job in music, operating a radio program called "The Solitary Singer" for the Armed Forces. During this time, and throughout his career as a singer, Gilkyson avoided controversial political and social subjects out of fear of being blacklisted during the "Red Scare." He recorded "The Cry of the Wild Goose" in 1949, a song that became a number one hit for Frankie Laine in 1950, as well as the 1953 hit song "Tell Me a Story" recorded by Jimmy Boyd and Laine. He recorded two songs, "On Top of Old Smoky" and "Across the Wide Missouri," with the Weavers, and three albums -- Folksongs, Terry Gilkyson, and Golden Minutes of Folk Music -- for Decca. He also received acting roles in a number of movies, including Star in the Dust (1956) and Slaughter Trail (1951).

In 1953, Gilkyson met Rich Dehr and Frank Miller, a duo who called themselves the Easy Riders, and the three decided to join forces. They wrote "Memories Are Made of This," a song that became a number one hit for Dean Martin, and recorded Marianne and Other Songs for Columbia in 1957. Gilkyson and the Easy Riders' ability to avert controversy served them well into the mid-'50s, a period when few folk musicians made names for themselves. The Weavers had nearly been put out-of-business by the McCarthy hearings, and the Kingston Trio would not burst on the scene with "Tom Dooley" until the summer of 1958. Meanwhile, Gilkyson wrote and recorded material that became standard folk repertoire for musicians like Burl Ives, Harry Belafonte, and the New Christy Minstrels.

After forming a second version of the Easy Riders and writing "Greenfields," a smash hit for the Brothers Four, Gilkyson began working for the Disney studios in the early '60s. He wrote songs for Swiss Family Robinson (1960), Savage Sam (1963), and The Jungle Book (1967), and received an Oscar nomination for "The Bare Necessities." When Disney attempted to put him on salary in the early '70s, he feared that he would lose the rights to his songs and decided to retire.
Last Edited=4 Sep 2011


  1. [S15] June (Shaull) Lutz, History of the Op Den Graef / Updegraff Family (Grand Rapids, Michigan; 1433 Elderwood Ct. N.W.: J. S. Lutz, 1988), p. U-149.