1957 Jim Reeves – Four Walls
James Travis Reeves grew up in a small town in Eastern Texas. He used his middle name for years. He earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas, intending to play baseball at the school, but quit after only six weeks. He played for a few semi-pro baseball teams and even had a spot pitching for a St. Louis Cardinals farm team when he turned 21. His baseball career ended after he suffered a sciatic nerve injury.
Jim began working as an announcer on radio and sometimes sang live between songs. He worked his way up to a job at KWKH-AM in Shreveport, Louisiana, the home of the popular Country Music show Louisiana Hayride. Jim began singing on the show when Hank Williams failed to show up for a performance and Jim got the chance to fill in for him.
Jim began recording songs that small record labels released as singles. The first time any of his recordings charted came in 1953, when his single Mexican Joe reached #1 on the Country chart. He continued to have multiple top ten Country hits every year through 1968.
Jim first reached the Hot 100 in 1957. Some top Nashville talent backed him on his recording of Four Walls, including Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, and The Jordanaires. The single topped the Country chart and reached #12 on the Hot 100 in 1957.
While two more of Jim’s singles reached #31 and #37 on the Hot 100, he only had one more success on the pop chart. In 1960, he recorded He’ll Have To Go. The record reached #2 on the Hot 100 and gave Jim another #1 Country hit.
Jim died in 1964 when the small private plane he was piloting got caught in a thunderstorm and crashed. His record label successfully continued releasing music he had already recorded through 1984. Six of those posthumous releases topped the Country chart between 1964 and 1967.
Patsy Cline had also died in a plane crash in 1963. Some production wizardry combined the vocals from Jim and Patsy on a new recording of Have You Ever Been Lonely? and the result was a top five country duet by the pair in 1982.
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