Today marks the 87th anniversary of the birth of Jim Reeves. Last year I mentioned, somewhat belatedly the anniversary of his death. In line with my new approach to trying to be more positive, I thought I’d start noting happy days in Country Music history.
Reeves started out as an announcer on a Country Music show called the Louisiana Hay Ride. At the time Hank Williams’ career was going off the rails and he missed a scheduled performance. Reeves was asked to fill and did, marvelously.
Even before that he was singing, including a stint with Moon Mullican. It was his performance on Louisiana Hayride that got him noticed.
His first hit was “Mexican Joe”, a traditional style country song of the time. Mexican Joe went to #1 on the Country charts and was Reeves breakthrough hit. His next several hits were in traditional “fiddle and steel guitar” country style.
In the late 1950s Reeves was a big enough star that he could experiment with changing his style. He took a big risk by lowering his voice, singing more softly and using both background singers and a more orchestra like instrumentation. The result was “Four Walls” originally written for a female singer. The gamble paid off and “Four Walls” went to #1 on the Country charts and #11 on the Pop charts. The style that Reeves used for “Four Walls” went on to become the “Nashville” sound.
Even after his death, Reeves continued to be popular. His widow, Mary released an album a year from 1964 until 1984. Many were demo recordings he made with added instrumentation and back up singers added in years later. “Distant Drums” is an example of one of those.
Reeves influence on Country music has lasted long after his all too early death. His voice is timeless, as are his songs. Here are a few more of my favorites.