Recognition for Jim Reeves

Posted August 2, 2007 -<

Dear Country friends,
After Country performer and Shreveport's native Claude King induction on the Shreveport's Walk of Fame now comes Gentleman Jim Reeves. On Saturday August 11, 2007, The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce will hold the posthumous induction honouring Jim Reeves. That's for sure a long time needed recognition by that Louisiana Hayride's city after Jim's nomination to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967. Jim Reeves was a regular guest at the Louisiana Hayride from 1952 until late 1955 when he left to become member of the Grand Ole Opry as many others had done before him. So, being a so popular act at the Louisiana Hayride show for three years allow him to be honoured by the City almost 84 years after his birth. However, Jim was not Louisiana born but came from Texas. Let me tell you more about "Mexican Joe" father.

Jim Reeves was born in Panola County, Texas, August 20, 1923. After graduating from high school in Carthage, Texas, Jim attended the University of Texas in Austin. In 1945, he entered professional baseball and spent three years with the Saint Louis Cardinal's farm club at Lynchburg (VA). By 1947, after an injury and turned to the music. He became DJ into KGRI, Henderson (Tx) and for KSIG in Gladewater (Tx). In 1949, Jim had two records issued on the Texas "Macy's Recordings" label who are real rarities now. By mid 1952, he found a job as announcer for KWKH in Shreveport and was used as filer on stage show when an act didn't show up.

Thanks to Tom Perryman, another DJ, he meets Fabor Robinson, former Johnny Horton' manager and half owner of the "Abbott" records label. That label had issued various sides by Johnny Horton or Billy Barton but stayed a regional level. Fabor Robinson signed Jim on his label in March 1953 and soon "Mexican Joe" was number one in the country charts. Few months later, "Caribbean" by Mitchell Torok on the same label, went n 5 on the charts. From there Fabor Robinson took full control on the "Abbott" label and will launch the "Fabor" label. An international deal will be set and some "Abbott" records had counterpart in England on the London-American label like Mitchell Torok "Caribbean" (Feb 54), Floyd Cramer "Fancy Pants" (Feb 54), Jim Reeves "Bimbo" (March 54) and "Mexican Joe" (April 54) or T. Tommy Cutrer "Mexico Gal" (Nov 54). That same label was also offering, in England, sides recorded for "Imperial" by Louisiana Hayride performers like Slim Whitman, Merle Kilgore or David Houston.

More hits followed on the label like "Bimbo", "Butterfly Love" or "Drinkin Tequila" and it wasn't long before Jim, became a well- known, well-liked performer, high up on list of favourites in the country & Western field. In 1955, Jim Reeves worked a lot on Louisiana Hayride package tour with Elvis Presley, Johnny Horton, Jimmy and Johnny or Betty Amos. Late 1955, Jim Reeves moved to RCA records and climbed the charts with such releases as "Yonder Comes A Sucker", "That's a sad Affair", "If you were Mine" or "Four Walls". His band named the Wagonmasters, through the years, featured Tommy Hill, Billy Harlan, Buddy Killen or Jimmy Day to name a few.

Early 1957, Jim went to an oversea tour of American base with an RCA package featuring Hank Locklin, Del Wood, The Browns and the 17 years old female Rockabilly wonder Janis Martin. That tour lasted 32 days and brings them from London to Germany.

By that time Jim enjoyed worldwide popularity, especially in England, and helped to give a new audience to Country Music. Leaving the fancy Nudie's clothes to the other, he showed a more urban style with suit and tie. A perfect and great looking Gentleman.

From the latter half of 1957 to early 1958, Jim hosted from the WSM studio in Nashville, a daily, one-hour radio show called "The Jim Reeves Show".

By 1958, Jim hosted for a while the "Country Jubilee" TV show in place of Red Foley and keep recording with the best musicians from Chet Atkins, Bob Moore, Floyd Cramer or The Jordanaires. In December 1958, with the support of Tillman Franks, he made his first appearance on the Louisiana Hayride since 1955 with Johnny Horton, Country Johnny Mathis and Merle Kilgore. The early 60's saw Jim high in the charts with "He'll Have to Go", "Welcome to My World" or "I Love You Because". Then the public really liked that new "Nashville Sound" more sophisticated than the raw Hillbilly sound of the early 50's. Even Ray Charles, a R'n'B master, showed interested for that sound and started to record Country LP's.

In 1964, Jim was back in Germany with Bobby Bare and Chet Atkins where they got a warm reception. In May, he brings on light "I guess I'm Crazy", a 1955 song written and already recorded by the former Louisiana Hayride performer Werly Fairburn. That song was doing strong when, on July 31, 1964, Jim was killed on a plane crash near Nashville. Another star was lost on the road just like Buddy Holly, Johnny Horton, Patsy Cline or Hank Williams few years earlier. Jim used to sing "A stranger to me is just a friend I haven't meet" so, on that August 11, 2007 celebration he will have a lot of friends ... Some he had meet, some not but his legacy is still alive and his actual records sales prove his everlasting talent!

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