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Jim Reeves Biography

Home > Music > R > Reeves, Jim > Biography

Birth Name: James Travis Reeves
Born: 1923/08/20
Birth Place: Galloway, Texas, United States
Died: 1964/07/31
Years Active: 1949-1964
Genres: Country, Nashville Sound

Jim Reeves was born in Galloway, Texas on August 20, 1923 and was a country music singer and songwriter, who also achieved success on the mainstream pop charts. Reeves was successful from the 1950s through to the 1980s, and was at the forefront of the Nashville sound: A combination of older country music fused with popular music. Along with being blessed with a powerful singing voice, Reeves was a natural athletic as a child and performed well in high school playing baseball. He went on to earn a college scholarship for baseball and played for three years in the minor leagues before turning his attention to music after an injury.

Reeves began his music career as a radio announcer, and sang live on the air between shows, which garnered Reeves some moderate success in the early 1940s. Reeves' break came when he began to perform with Moon Mullican's band, recording, “Each Beat of my Heart” and “My Heart's Like a Welcome Mat.” Reeves growing fan base began to swell with each new recording.

Influenced greatly by artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, Bing Crosby, Eddy Arnold and Frank Sinatra, Reeves began to perfect his sound. His first hit came with “I Love You,” a duet with Ginny Wright, followed by “Mexican Joe,” and “Bimbo.” Reeves' debut album, “Jim Reeves Sings” arrived in 1955 on Abbott Records, the same year Reeves joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Reeves was a pioneer in bringing about a new style of singing in country music circles. He incorporated violins into his sound, he lowered the booming sound of his voice, which had been a typical style at the time for country singers, and his style became known as the “Nashville sound.” Reeves was also labeled a crooner and was a huge hit with his female fans. Reeves achieved great success with the song, “He’ll Have to Go” in 1959, peaking at #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart where it remained for 14 consecutive weeks. 1963 saw the release of Reeves, “Twelve Songs of Christmas” album, which elevated Reeves' international popularity during the 1960s. Tragically, on July 31, 1964, Reeves and his business partner and manager Dean Manuel were flying in a single-engine plane, with Reeves at the controls when they hit a rain storm and Reeves lost control of the plane. They crashed and Reeves was killed on impact. Thousands of people traveled to Reeves funeral two days later to watch his coffin travel through the streets of Nashville.