American country and folk vocal trio The Browns gained instant fame in 1959 when they recorded “The Three Bells.” The song topped both Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and the Hot 100 chart. Not only that, the record has also earned them a Grammy Awards nomination that same year. From that time onward, multiple artists recorded their own versions of the song. Yet, The Browns’ rendition remains the most notable of all.
Details of “The Three Bells”
Another name given for “The Three Bells” was “Jimmy Brown” or “Little Jimmy Brown.” As such, the song recounts the three stages on Jimmy Brown’s life including his birth, marriage, and death. Published in 1945, the original text was written in French language with the title “Les Trois Cloches.” Surprisingly, its author and music composer, Jean Villard Gilles, was not French but of Swiss origin. Soon after, Bert Reisfeld, translated the lyrics in English while Marc Herrand provided the musical arrangement. Prior to The Browns, the group called Melody Maids recorded the song in 1948. On the other hand, its French version was a big hit for French artists Edith Piaf and Les Compagnons de la chanson between 1952 and 1953. By chance, The Browns’ male vocalist Jim Ed Brown had a name similar to the song’s protagonist.
The number of artists who had covered the song is too many mention. That includes those who recorded it in different languages. But among the most distinguished country music artists who recorded the song were Ray Charles, Johnny Cash & The Carter Family, Chet Atkins, and Alison Krauss & Union Station Band. In 1969, Jim Ed Brown released his own cover of “The Three Bells.”
Now, let us listen to The Browns live rendition of their biggest hit below.
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