Sunday, August 18, 2013

Great Country Music Voices - Jim Reeves

Jim Reeves.jpg

His full name was James Travis Reeves, but the world knows him simply as Jim Reeves.  

He was born on August 20, 1923, in Galloway, Texas, a small rural community near Carthage. 

Because he was a pretty good baseball player in High School, he won an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas - but quit after only six weeks to work in the shipyards in Houston during World War II to build Victory ships.

Victory ships were a later version of the Liberty ships.

He later resumed playing baseball and was actually in semi-professional league before being contracted with the St. Louis Cardinals "farm" team as a right-handed pitcher.

He played for the minor leagues for three years before severing his sciatic nerve while pitching, that ended his baseball career.

One biography says he tried boxing for a while, but found that there were better and smarter ways to make a living.

As a radio announcer, and had sing advertising jiggles live between songs. Yes, that's how he got his start as a singer.

During the late 1940s, he was contracted with a couple of small Texas-based recording companies, but without success.

Influenced by such Western swing-music artists as Jimmie Rodgers and Moon Mullican, as well as popular singers such as Bing Crosby, Eddy Arnold and Frank Sinatra, it was not long before he was a member of Moon Mullican's band, and made some early Mullican-style recordings like "Each Beat of my Heart" and "My Heart's Like a Welcome Mat" from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.

He eventually obtained a job as an announcer for KWKH-AM in Shreveport, Louisiana, home of the popular former radio program, the Louisiana Hayride.

Jim Reeves once said, in an interview on the RCA album Yours Sincerely, that Hank Williams (Sr.) missed a performance and Reeves was asked to substitute.

One of his breakthrough singles was "Mexican Joe" in 1953.   Accompanying Jim Reeves on "Mexican Joe" were the Circle O Ranch Boys and was Jim Reeves' debut single on the country charts. "Mexican Joe" hit number one on the country charts for six weeks with a total of twenty six weeks on the chart.

Featuring "Big" Red Hayes on the fiddle and Floyd Cramer on the piano, "Mexican Joe" was a rollicking, Western swing-influenced tale of a bandito and drifter who engages in a lifestyle of women, carousing and gambling.

Though he had released a few singles prior to "Mexican Joe," none attained the level of national success needed to reach any of Billboard's country music component charts in use at the time.

"Mexican Joe" became Reeves' first major success nationally and would eventually pave the way to super-stardom.

                                                                Mexican Joe


The short version of his life is that he was an American country and a popular music singer-songwriter. And yes, both here and around the world, he was also a living legend.

With records charting from the 1950s to the 1980s, his songs were a mixture of older country-style music with elements of popular music.

On July 31st, 1964, Jim Reeves died at age 40 in the crash of a private airplane.

Known as "Gentleman Jim", his songs continued to chart for years after his death.

Today, he is a member of both the Country Music and Texas Country Music Halls of Fame. But more importantly, his style of singing an beautiful voice are surely missed.

In his day, the bands would let the singer show off his or her vocal abilities and not drown out the lyrics of a song.

Because of that fact, I believe that there is not a single singer today that can hold a candle to the smooth voice of Jim Reeves.

Take a look at these videos and hear for yourself, then ask yourself "other than George Strait, why aren't there great male voices in country music today?" 

"Have I Told You Lately"

                                                             Distant Drums

      "I Love You Because"      (Oslo, Norway, 1964)

 The Blizzard

                                          "Have I Told You Lately"

          He'll Have To Go

"Waltzing On Top Of The World"

            "Adios Amigo"
    (Oslo, Norway, 1964)

Songs from his appearances on
The Grand Ol' Opry

                        "Danny Boy"

"Where We'll Never Grow Old"

          Streets of Laredo

               "May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You"

And may God bless the great Jim Reeves for all he gave us.

Story by Tom Correa 

1 comment:

  1. My dad once worked at a company called "Minute Maid" with a guy who was the nephew of Jim Reeves. His name was George Reeves. George has long since passed away but while he was alive he had vivid memories of his uncle. Both he and Jim came from Carthage, Texas and George even had a brief career in music himself for a while. George had a number one hit with his own version of "He'll Have To Go" in 1966 and had a hit with his own version of "Mexican Joe" in 1968. At least that's what I was told. George once said that when he got the phone call telling him his uncle, Jim Reeves, had died in a plane crash in June of 1964, he was devastated. It was Jim's closest friend, Buck Thornhill, who told George over the phone that day, "George, son, I don't know how to tell ya this, but Uncle Jim is dead." Dad introduced me to George when I was either six or seven. I had no idea he was related to Jim Reeves until much later on in life. I even went to school with a kid named Jimmy Reeves and turns out he is the distant cousin of Jim Reeves. How George ended up in Polk County, Florida is beyond me but that piece of history is fascinating. George died in 2004 and I haven't seen Jimmy in a long time. But Jim Reeves did have some great music and I was very lucky and very pleased to have met his nephew George and to have gone to school with Jimmy. They truly were some great friends. I will remember them fondly. Rest in peace, George. And the same goes for you, Jim. You two truly were legendary.


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