With his smooth, warm baritone voice, Jim Reeves was not only one of the world’s most popular stars to emerge from the Nashville sound, but he was also one of the best and the most fascinating. The sweet country music and country-flavored pop music he produced helped boost country music to new commercial heights.
So, today, let’s celebrate Jim Reeves‘ life and career with these facts. Check them out below.
1. He’s a native of Galloway, Texas.
Born James Travis Reeves on August 20, 1923, the country singer was the youngest of nine children. The big family was raised by his mother by working in the fields – with his older brothers forced to leave school to help support the family – when his father died when Reeves was only ten months old.
2. He developed an interest in country music at an early age.
Reeves received his first guitar when he was five years old. However, it had missing strings. Luckily, an oil construction worker fixed it up and even taught him some basic chords. Jimmie Rodgers‘ songs were some of his inspirations.
3. He tried to pursue a professional baseball career.
Reeves was a talented athlete. He was a pitcher on his team at Carthage High School. After graduating, he earned an athletic scholarship and played at the University of Texas – where he studied speech and drama. However, he dropped out after six weeks. Eventually, Reeves joined minor league teams in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Sadly, a leg injury that did not heal properly ended Reeves’s baseball career.
4. His wife encouraged him to pursue his interest in music.
In 1947, Reeves married school teacher Mary White – who encouraged him to sing as an amateur in the area. So, you could say she’s the woman behind Reeve’s success. Even after Reeves’ death, she managed the country singer’s posthumous career.
5. He wore a toupee.
Many fans may not have known, but Reeves got himself a toupee. During his first appearance at The Grand Ole Opry in the early 1950s, his receding hairline was already noticeable. So, his manager discussed it with him to wear a toupee, which he wore ever after. This fact was kept a secret for many years that even Reeves’ wife once sued an overseas magazine for reporting it.
6. He didn’t like the accordion.
According to Chet Atkins, Reeves disliked the accordion so much that the musical instrument appears on only one song he ever recorded: “The Merry Christmas Polka.” Atkins managed to convince Reeves that the song wouldn’t be a polka without an accordion.
Although Reeves’ death was untimely, it did not mean the end of his career. Even more than fifteen years after the plane crash that killed him, Jim Reeves songs continued to chart. He achieved posthumous chart success that no other singer in the history of recorded music has accomplished. His popular velvet voice soared through the history of country music.