The son of an impoverished Texas farming family, Jim Reeves was actually a very successful country music recording artist before he came to the attention of the world at large.
It wasn’t until he signed a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1955 (at the age of 32) that the now familiar Reeves sound began to emerge.
That sound virtually reshaped the course of modern country music and contributed as much to the overall acceptance of country music in the 60s as did Jimmie Rodgers some thirty years earlier.
In 1952, Reeves (at the time a radio DJ and station announcer) began recording for the Texas-based record company, Macy’s Queen of Hits. The records were sold through the company’s chain-stores and were strictly regional successes, but they gave Reeves the encouragement he needed to pursue a singing career.
His first RCA hit, Four Walls (1957), set the mould for his debut British hit He’ll Have To Go. Reeve’s warm, soft voice boosted the single to #36 in March 1960, and #12 a month later upon re-entry.
During 1961, the velvet-voiced singer enjoyed two further British hits, Whispering Hope in March, and You’re The Only Good Thing during November. With Adios Amigo and I’m Gonna Change Everything notching up further hits during 1962.
Welcome To My World, a beautiful smooth ballad, soared to #6 in the British chart during 1963.
Also during that year, Reeves starred in Kimberley Jim, a movie shot in South Africa – a country he loved (he had previously toured there with Floyd Cramer and commanded a strong following).
Another classic was issued the following year – I Love You Because. The song raced to #5 in the UK charts, hotly followed by I Won’t Forget You, which reached #3.
Tragically, Jim Reeves was killed on 31 July 1964 when his private plane crashed in Nashville, Tennessee.
Since his death he has become more popular even than he was in his lifetime. During 1965 he had six posthumous British hits, including It Hurts So Much, Not Until The Next Time and Is It Really Over?, while the next year, he reached the top of the British chart in October with Distant Drums.