Harry Belafonte & Ron Hamilton
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A calypso singer who parlayed a successful music career into political activism, Belafonte died April 25. He was 96. Belafonte dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy at age 17. After WWII, he fell in with artists, forging a lifelong friendship with actor Sidney Poitier. Originally, Belafonte sang to pay for acting classes. But his 1956 Calypso album became a surprise hit, the first solo album in history to sell 1 million copies. The album’s first track—“Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”—became iconic. As a political activist, Belafonte bankrolled civil rights campaigns and bailed activists like Martin Luther King Jr. out of jail. In his later years, Belafonte’s political commentary became more strident, turning him into a polarizing figure.
Hamilton, a Christian songwriter and recording artist whose Patch the Pirate character became a staple in Christian homes for decades, passed away April 19 aged 72. After earning degrees at Bob Jones University, Hamilton worked at his father-in-law’s music publishing company, Majesty Music, where he’d eventually compose hymns and children’s music. When, in 1978, Hamilton lost an eye to cancer, his resulting eye patch led him to adopt the persona of Patch the Pirate. By the early 1980s, Hamilton added comedy bits from Patch to his children’s records. Eventually The Adventures of Patch the Pirate became a widely listened-to radio broadcast.
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