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.
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.
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"
"I Love You Because" (Oslo, Norway, 1964)
He'll Have To Go
"Waltzing On Top Of The World"
(Oslo, Norway, 1964)
The Grand Ol' Opry
"Where We'll Never Grow Old"
Streets of Laredo
And may God bless the great Jim Reeves for all he gave us.
Story by Tom Correa