Jim Reeves (August 20, 1923 - July 31, 1964) was an American country singer.
Reeves was born James Travis Reeves in Galloway, Texas; he became known as a crooner because of his warm, velvety voice. His songs were remarkable for their simple elegance highlighted by his rich baritone voice. Songs such as "He'll Have to Go," "Adios Amigo," "Welcome To My World," and "Am I Losing You" demonstrated this approach. Jim Reeves' Christmas songs have been perennial favorites, including songs such as "Silver Bells," "Blue Christmas," and "An Old Christmas Card."
After an injury cut short his minor-league baseball career within the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, his musical break came while working as announcer on KWKH Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Singer Sleepy LaBeef could not make it on time for a performance on the Louisiana Hayride, according to former Hayride emcee Frank Page, and Reeves was asked to fill in. (Other accounts - including Reeves himself, in an interview later released on the RCA album Yours Sincerely - name Hank Williams as the absentee.) Reeves' singing career was launched.
His first country hits included "I Love You" (a duet with Ginny Wright), "Mexican Joe", "Bimbo" and other songs on both Fabor Records and Abbott Records. Eventually, Reeves began to tire of the novelty bracket he had been forced into, and left for RCA Victor.
In his earliest RCA Victor recordings, Reeves was still singing in the loud style of his first recordings, a style considered standard for country-western performers at that time. He sought to soften his volume, using a lower pitch and singing with lips nearly touching the microphone, but ran into some resistance at RCA - until in 1957, with the support of his producer Chet Atkins, he used this new style on his version of a demo song of lost love, written from a woman's perspective (and intended for a female singer). "Four Walls" not only took top position on the country charts, but went top-ten on the popular charts at the same time. Reeves had not only opened the door to wider acceptance for other country singers, but had also helped usher in a new style of country music, using violins and lusher background arrangements, soon called "The Nashville Sound."
In 1959-60 Reeves scored his greatest hit with the Joe Allison composition "He'll Have to Go," which earned him a platinum record. In the early 1960s, Reeves was more popular than Elvis Presley in South Africa. During this period, he recorded several albums in Afrikaans. In 1963 he starred in a South African movie, Kimberley Jim, which was the biggest South African production up to that date. He had a posthumous No.1 hit on the United Kingdom pop charts in 1966 with "Distant Drums," a song written for him by Cindy Walker. Jim Reeves was one of the few Western singers, including music acts such as Boney M and ABBA, who became widely known in the non-European world, including Africa, India and Southeast Asia. To this day he is affectionately referred to as "Gentleman Jim" in those parts.
Reeves died when the small aircraft he was piloting crashed during a thunderstorm near Nashville, Tennessee. His business partner and manager Dean Manuel was also killed in the crash.
Reeves's records continued with good sales for both the old albums and a series of new ones. His widow, Mary, combined unreleased tracks with rerecorded previous releases (placing updated instrumentals alongside Reeves' original vocals) to produce a regular series of "new" albums after her husband's death.
He was elected posthumously to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967, and in 1998 he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, Texas, where the Jim Reeves Memorial is located.
Some of the songs he made famous were:
"According To My Heart" "Angels Don't Lie" "Anna Marie" "Bimbo" "Billy Bayou" "The Blizzard" "Blue Boy" "Blue Side of Lonesome" "Distant Drums" "Drinking Tequila" "A Fool Such as I" "Four Walls" "Guilty" "Home" "I'd Fight The World" "If Heartache is the Fashion" "I Guess I'm Crazy" "I Know One" "I Love You Because" "I'm Gettin' Better" "I'm Gonna Change Everything" "I Missed Me" "Is It Really Over" "Is This Me" "It's Nothin' To Me" "I Won't Come In While He's There" "I Won't Forget You" "Mexican Joe" "Moonlight and Roses" "Partners" "Rosa Rio" "Stand At Your Window" "The Writing's On The Wall" "This is It" "Welcome to My World" "When You Are Gone" "Yonder Comes a Sucker"