(August 20, 1923-July 31, 1964)
Born in Galloway, Texas
Had #1 country hits with the singles ‘Mexican Joe’ (1953), ‘Bimbo’ (1953), ‘Four Walls’ (1957), ‘Billy Bayou’ (1958), ‘He’ll Have to Go’ (1960), ‘I Guess I’m Crazy’ (1964), ‘This Is It’ (1965), ‘Is It Really Over?’ (1965), ‘Distant Drums’ (1966), ‘Blue Side of Lonesome’ (1966) and ‘I Won’t Come In While He’s There’ (1967)
Grand Ole Opry member (1955-64)
Died in the crash of a plane he was piloting
Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1967)
Nicknamed ‘Gentleman Jim’
Why he might be annoying
He won an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas, but dropped out after six weeks.
He and Randy Hughes, the pilot of Patsy Cline’s equally ill-fated plane, had the same flight instructor.
He had more hits on the country chart after his death than when he was alive.
More than a decade after their deaths, an album of ‘duets’ by him and Cline was created by splicing together songs they had recorded separately.
Why he might not be annoying
He played for a St. Louis Cardinals farm team for three years until an ankle injury ended his baseball career.
He got his big break while an announcer for KWKH-AM when Hank Williams failed to show for the station’s popular ‘Louisiana Hayride’ program and he was asked to substitute (1952).
He had a rich baritone voice that proved well suited for the smooth ‘Nashville sound.’
He was one of the first country artists to be popular overseas, racking up hits in Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa and India.
Credit: C. Fishel
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