Jim Reeves

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James Travis "Jim" Reeves (born August 20, 1923 in Galloway , Texas , † July 31, 1964 in Nashville , Tennessee ) was an American country singer .



Jim Reeves comes from a poor, large family. He and his siblings were raised by their mother alone after the early death of their father. Reeves started playing guitar when he was five. His idol was Jimmie Rodgers . In addition to his musical talent, he was also successful as an athlete and initially aimed for a career as a professional baseball player. But an ankle injury meant the end of his sporting ambitions.

In 1947 he married the teacher Mary White. He tried different jobs and appeared on the side as a singer. In 1949/1950 two singles were also produced on the small label "Macy's", but they were unsuccessful. After all, he worked as a disc jockey for various radio stations. In 1952 he became the announcer of the popular show Louisiana Hayride . Here there were opportunities for your own performances. One day he stepped in for Hank Williams , who had canceled at short notice, and was discovered that evening by Fabor Robinson, the owner of the small label Abbott Records .


His second single for "Abbott", Mexican Joe , reached number one in the country charts in 1953 and was at number 23 in the US singles charts. In the same year, his fifth single, Bimbo, topped the country charts . More top ten hits followed, and in 1954 Abbott released the LP Jim Reeves Sings . Jim Reeves was so successful that RCA bought him out of the current contract in 1955. In the same year he joined the Grand Ole Opry . His first RCA single, Yonder Comes A Sucker , made it to number four. It marked the beginning of a long series of hits that would last until after his death.

In 1957, Four Walls was published. With the record he also succeeded for the first time in the upper ranks of the Billboard Top 100 at number 11. The success of this ballad led to a change in style. Up until now, Reeves had mainly recorded classic country songs. From this point onwards, softer and more romantic tones were struck. His subsequent records were produced in the Nashville Sound , replacing traditional country instruments such as fiddle, banjo and steel guitar with piano, string orchestra and background choirs. All records were recorded at the RCA studios in Nashville and almost all of them were produced by Chet Atkins . A much larger audience could be reached with this country pop . In 1959 his biggest hit was released: He'll Have to Go . This song stayed at number one on the country charts for fourteen weeks and reached number two on the US singles chart. This song meant Reeves' international breakthrough: Although the title only reached number 11 in Great Britain, it became a number one hit in Canada, Norway and Australia. Tours to Europe and South Africa followed.

His streak of success in the country charts continued: in 1962 number two with Adios Amigo , also in 1964 with Welcome to My World and in 1964 number one with I Guess I'm Crazy , which came from Werly Fairburn . On one of his last appearances in the Louisiana Hayride, Reeves Fairburn had heard the song play and then recorded it himself. The single was released shortly after his death. In 1964 he came back to Germany on a tour with Chet Atkins, Bobby Bare and the Anita Kerr Singers. The live LP Nashville Stars On Tour was created in Hamburg and Berlin , and RCA even planned German recordings with Jim Reeves.

Immediately after his death, a real set "Jim Reeves boom" and brought spectacular success on the country charts: the ad published in June 1964 I Guess I'm Crazy reached number 1 in the same year was followed by yet I Will not Forget You on place 3; In 1965, This Is It and Is It Really Over took first place, Snow Flake came in second; In 1966 Distant Drums , Blue Side Of Lonesome and I Won't Come In While He's There landed at number 1, and Am I Losing You at number 8. By 1974, he was in the top 20 of the country charts with at least one single per year. After the interest in Reeves' records waned in the second half of the seventies, the record company RCA came up with the idea of ​​mixing female voices into the recordings. In 1979 and 1980 three singles were released on which the voice of Deborah Allen was added, all three singles reached places in the top ten. The 1981 song Have You Ever Been Lonely was a mixed duet with Patsy Cline and reached number 5.

Although all of his singles, which were released between 1956 and 1966, landed in the top ten of the country charts, his success in the pop sector in the USA remained rather modest: He had only two top 20 hits in all these years: Four Walls (11th place in 1957) and He'll Have To Go (2nd place in 1959). Of the numerous albums that he released in the USA, four made it into the top forty on the LP charts. He was posthumously awarded a gold record for his albums The Best Of Jim Reeves and Distant Drums .

International success

In Great Britain Reeves was much more successful in the pop sector than in the USA: 13 singles reached positions in the top 20 between 1960 and 1969. He was at the top of the singles chart in the following countries: Canada, Norway, Ireland, Great Britain, second place in the USA, Germany and South Africa. His popularity was unusually high in Norway, where he topped the singles charts with three songs, took second place five times and was in the top 10 with a total of 15 titles between 1960 and 1967. In Germany, Jim Reeves had no success during his lifetime, it was only with the single Distant Drums , which was released after his death , that Reeves made the jump into the German charts, where the record reached second place.

As an example of the fact that RCA was trying to establish Jim Reeves internationally on various record markets , South Africa should be mentioned: In 1962 the album In Suid Africa (RCA 31630) was released, on which Reeves, Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer can be heard. A solo album by Reeves Jy Is My Liefling (RCA 31671) was released in 1963. All the songs on both albums are in Afrikaans .

Film actor

In 1964, Jim Reeves played the lead role in the film Kimberley Jim , the story of a southern man who wanted to get rich in the diamond rush of 1900 in South Africa. Emil Nofal produced, directed and wrote the screenplay, a western that has been relocated to South Africa. In addition to Reeves, Madeleine Usher and Clive Parnell played other leading roles, the arranger and musical director of this music film was Bill Walker.

Early death

On July 31, 1964, Jim Reeves and Dean Manuel, his pianist and manager, were killed in a plane crash. Your small plane crashed into a storm while approaching Nashville.

The popularity of the singer with the velvety baritone voice continued to increase after his death. A number of archive songs were released that sold well. Until the early 1970s, Jim Reeves was able to conquer top positions in the charts. Occasionally he made it into the top ten as late as the 1980s.

In 1967 "Gentleman Jim" posthumously received the highest honor that country music can bestow: induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame .



  • Cook, Pansy: The Saga Of Jim Reeves. Country And Western Singer And Musician . Los Angeles, CAL: Crescent Publications, 1977 (IV + 27 pages, ill., Large format). ISBN 0-89144-029-1 .
  • Streissguth, Michael: Like A Moth To A Flame. The Jim Reeves Story . Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill Press, 1998 (240 pp.). ISBN 1-55853-607-8 .

Individual evidence

  1. Walter Fuchs: The History of Country Music. Centers, styles, resumes . Bastei-Lübbe Verlag, Bergisch Gladbach 1980, pp. 66-68
  2. ^ Rüdiger Bloemeke: Live in Germany, Voodoo Verlag, Hamburg, 2008. ISBN 978-3-00-023781-2
  3. Stephen Nugent / Annie Fowler / Peter Fowler: Chart Log Of American / British Top 20 Hits 1955 - 1974 , in: Charlie Gillett / Simon Frith (eds.): Rock File 4 . Panther Books, London 1976, pp. 287f
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn: Top LPs 1945 - 1972 . Record Research, Menomonee Falls 1973, p. 122 - for a detailed discography of his LPs see: Tilch: Rock LPs . 3rd ext. Ed., Vol. 3, M - S. Taurus Press, Hamburg 1990, pp. 1316-1320
  5. ^ White, Adam: The Billboard Book Of Gold And Platinum Records . 2nd revised edition, London: Omnibus Press, 1990, p. 192
  6. Stephen Nugent / Annie Fowler / Peter Fowler: Chart Log Of American / British Top 20 Hits 1955 - 1974 , in: Charlie Gillett / Simon Frith (eds.): Rock File 4 . Panther Books, London 1976, pp. 287f
  7. ^ Günter Ehnert (ed.): Hit balance sheet. German chart singles 1956 - 1980 . Taurus Press, Hamburg 1990, p. 168
  8. ^ Cover of the LP Music From The Movie "Kimberley Jim" , RCA LSP-2780, 1964
  9. Melvin Shestack: The Country Music Encyclopedia . Omnibus Press, London / New York 1977, p. 224

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