VIDEO CLIPS OF JIM

A few years ago, I was approached by the BBC Four in England to help them do a Jim Reeves segment on a special show they were doing called "Kings of Country." I worked with producer Fay Gibson for months, investing a huge amount of my time, entertaining her frequent calls and questions, furnishing them with background information and rare photos of Mr. Reeves, and generally assisting with the segment. Based on my recommendations, they even dispatched a TV crew to Nashville for the purpose of doing interviews, and I set up the shoot for them by contacting my friend Buddy Killen (who was one of Jim's closest buddies in Nashville). As I knew he would, Buddy graciously offered to provide his office space for the BBC crew to set up. I also arranged the other interviews, including with Ray Baker, Hank Cochran, et al. Leo Jackson had promised to also be interviewed but was unable to make the shoot. Somehow Joyce Jackson found out about it and showed up on the day of filming, hence she ended up on camera, though she was not on the list of interview subjects.

After being asked by the BBC to help produce this segment, (which they contractually had assured me would only air once), you can imagine my surprise when the first airing failed to even reference my name in the credits and they tried to stiff me for the money they'd also promised. Ms. Gibson -- who had exploited my expertise for months to assemble her segment on Reeves -- was of no help whatsoever. When I complained, one of their odious lawyers tried to dismiss and even taunt me, but he found out that was a mistake -- the result being that I ultimately got a mea culpa letter from an executive at the BBC assuring me I would be properly credited in future airings. They did indeed send me a new copy of the video with my name in the credits and also forwarded a check. But it left a bad taste in my mouth with regard to how BBC Four does business. There seemed to be an arrogance on their part toward Americans generally and hell would have to freeze over before I ever gave those people any assistance again.

Anyway, that's the "back story" of how this segment got made.

The Jim Reeves profile has been posted on the internet and can be viewed below. I hope you find it interesting. It was particularly touching for me to see Hank Cochran (whom I'm sure you knew was a VERY famous songwriter), say that of all the stars lost, he missed Jim the most. As I confirm in my book, "Jim Reeves: His Untold Story," Hank was, indeed, slated to be on the plane with Jim the day Reeves and Dean Manuel got killed...


As I detail in my new book, "Jim Reeves: His Untold Story," the singer appeared on many more television programs than any of us realized. Most of the time these shows were broadcast live, and so his performances were never captured for posterity. Still, I have no doubt that old kinescopes, films and even videotapes of Jim do exist and are in private hands.

Although my UK business partner, Steve Brink, of H&H Music and I released a DVD called "The Jim Reeves Anthology," containing 22 video performances by Jim Reeves — all of them live (no lip sync) — plus bonus material and even a documentary, we chose not to include these clips. However, I have taken my pristine copies of some of the performances and converted them into streaming video. Though they lose a lot of quality in the YouTube conversion process, I think you will still enjoy them and they are better than most of what's out there.


(Incidentally, after a clip gets done playing, YouTube displays completely unrelated videos from other posters, some of which are very offensive. I don't know why they do this, as it has no relevance, but apparently there is no way around this. Just ignore this crap).

Here is one of Jim Reeves' early television appearances, on a Grand Ole Opry TV show hosted by Ernest Tubb. Whoever did Jim's make-up should have been fired. His eyebrows were so dark they looked odd. But as usual, his winning personality and terrific singing won the day.



Although Jim rarely wore western attire after 1956, he did so on Valentine's Day in 1959 when he appeared on the famous Town Hall Party TV show broadcast from Compton, CA. It was a booking that his Hollywood ladyfriend, Bea Terry, got him. In these next clips, you get to see how animated Jim was when singing at a dance. He is noticeably more relaxed than when he had to appear on TV shows, where his eyes would dart around and he was obviously uncomfortable. (True, this was telecast but it was basically a live concert that also happened to be broadcast, as compared with a formal TV show whereby Reeves would be more ill at ease). As I report in my book, Jim was a bit of a chameleon in that he seemed to tailor his manner and dress according to his surroundings. The rest of the performers on the THP show were confirmed hillbillies so Jim acted a bit that way as well. Johnny Bond, the show host, was a close personal friend of Jim's and got him several songs over the years. Johnny and Bea were also close. The Bonds and Jim and Bea socialized together as couples.

In the first clip, Jim sings a jazzy version of one of his biggest hits. Look at him bouncing up and down as he delivers this number!


Next Mr. Reeves comes back to sing "Am I Losing You." As I disclose in my book, Jim wrote this song for Bea Terry, perfecting it while he was on a long train ride with other RCA stars. Jim even gave the rights to her, and insisted Bea — not his wife — pick up the record award in Nashville. (Yet Mary Reeves sued the woman after Jim was gone, to recover the rights and the royalties). It was Ms. Terry who sat Jim down and told him his singing was all wrong, that he was sounding too harsh by performing so loudly. She convinced him to move closer to the microphone and croon more softly, such as when he sang privately to her. On his next session, he experimented with this technique and cut "Am I Losing You" in a far more intimate style than he had been vocalizing up to that time. What's intriguing about this video clip is that Bea Terry was there at the Town Hall Party show that day, so Jim was in fact singing "her" song to her. Then he did an impromptu version of "Anna Marie," which suffered from a lack of good accompaniment. But you can see how Jim enjoyed himself on stage, despite the perspiration on his forehead from the hot lights and crowded conditions.


Jim made several appearances on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry TV series, hosted by T. Tommy Cutrer. The fact that video of Reeves on this program even survived is a miracle, because WSM threw it all out! Fortunately, it was rescued by one man, whose role in preserving this historic footage on Jim has gone unheralded until now.

His name was Russ McCown and he was a film editor at Channel 4. A Vanderbilt graduate, Russ also assumed the fictional role of Sir Cecil Creape, the balding, portly hunchback host of WSM-TV's Saturday night "Creature Feature" spotlighting old horror movies. Creape would come clumping down the stairs "deep within the catacombs" with his signature greeting, "Did someone caaaaall?" He became such a local cult figure he was mobbed at public events. The TV management heightened the mystery by keeping Cecil's true identity a secret for years, and many of the station's on-air personalties were suspects.

Well, Sir Creape — or should I say Russ McCown? — salvaged these rare Jim Reeves videotapes by literally picking them out of a trash can at WSM! By discarding these recordings, the station clearly disclaimed any future interest in them, and representatives for Russ assumed the copyrights. Although the present owners of WSM now have copies of this video, and try to exert an iron-fisted control over it, even they recognize their rights remain murky.

Next is a clip that has been traded amongst collectors so many times over the years that the multi-generation copies have suffered from terrible video and audio breakdown (blurry, extraneous color lines, a counter at the bottom, etc.) However, my copy here is pristine. I hope you enjoy Jim doing one of his most popular up-tempo numbers. You can see how elated Leo Jackson was to be singing with Reeves, and how Jim looked over at him with fatherly admiration.


Here is Jim Reeves at his best — smooth and mellow, singing one of his favorite songs (and one of mine as well). Reeves wore a pale lavendar-colored tuxedo jacket with black trim that day, that he'd gotten from a clothier who also was a promoter, did bookings, and ended up being Johnny Cash's manager: Saul Holiff. Jim liked to stand out from the crowd, hence his forsaking western garb around 1956 in favor of nicely tailored suits, dinner jackets and tuxes. Only on rare occasions did he still don the western wear because, he admitted, he never felt comfortable wearing it. Still, it was a bit daring to wear a jacket in a light purple! Anyway, enjoy this clip of "Losing Your Love."


This video is one of my favorites, and includes Blue Boy Bobby Dyson playing electric bass and singing harmony on "I'm Gonna Change Everything." Done in October 1961, Jim was wearing a sparkly red jacket with black tuxedo lapels as the band was decked out in their sharp-looking blue tuxes. The energized performance Jim gives here conveys the fun and excitement he and the band brought to the stage.


The same day he was on, Jim Reeves gave a very moving rendition of one of his favorite hymns.


Next, a rollicking feel-good novelty song about a little boy, first made famous by Bob Willis back in 1946.  Jim proves he could sing up-tempo songs and not just ballads, but there is something a bit incongruous about the tuxedo-clad Mr. Velvet singing such a goofy tune!


One of Jim's classic hits, which I never grow tired of hearing. Bobby Bare told me how Jim was always checking up on his band while he was on stage, and never missed a wrong note. You can see him glancing over at Leo, Bobby and Mel.



This next video is from a kinescope of Jim appearing on Dick Clark's famous "American Bandstand" TV show on the ABC network in 1960. It was the custom for guests on the program not to actually sing, but rather to lip-sync. The problem is, Reeves was terrible at it! He somehow never got the hang of it. He had a bit of a "meter problem"anyway, (though his phrasing was always precise). And having to mouth the words even to a song he knew well seemed to throw him off. The microphones in the studio were kept live to register the audience reaction, so you hear the girls screaming as Jim pantomimes to the music. This seems to startle Jim even more. You'll see how awkward he was on camera, even standing up at one point but being partially out of his key light until he quickly realizes this and steps to the right. Then he stiffly sits down. Poor Jim... Leo Jackson confirmed that Reeves hated to lip sync and felt it was cheating the audience. He would much rather have sung live, but TV producers wouldn't allow that on some shows due to budget constraints and the fact they didn't want to have to pay musicians.


Including a video from Jim's famous Oslo, Norway concert done in April 1964 is probably obligatory, though the quality I've posted here is not nearly as good as that which H&H and VoiceMasters released on the DVD, "The Jim Reeves Anthology,". We licensed the video from Norway television but the copy they gave us was so abysmal, after the DVD was pressed I insisted we re-manufacture it (at considerable expense) and use a far superior copy that I had obtained from a private source. Bear released a copy of the Oslo show on a DVD set that sells for $169.94 (!) but if you aren't interested in seeing other stars on the tour, you are paying an awful lot just to get Jim. And as I say, I can assure you our copy of the video is far better. You also will be blown away by the audio quality, which I am proud to say was handled entirely by David Lawrence and me using our VoiceMasters proprietary restoration process. You can buy our DVD for a fraction of the cost...just $25!

Anyway, here is a little sample but remember, this is a poor copy of an otherwise good video:


Here is an except from another BBC documentary that I had not previously seen. It features Jim Reeves quite prominently, and credits him with leading the development of the Nashville Sound. It also has some interesting video of Jim's close friend, Dottie West, recording in Studio B. (Jim got Dottie her contract with RCA and also sang two duets with her, as you probably know). You will also see Jim recording "Golden Memories and Silver Tears."


Note: None of the video on this website is from commercially released sources and as such is not in violation of any copyrights.

4 comments:

  1. Larry I haven't watched any of these yet, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will. I have done my fair share of searches on YouTube to find Jim live, and like you, I have been very frustrated by their formatting of just throwing in garbage with the clips of Jim. No rhyme or reason, and certainly no common sense. But I certainly thank you for the work you have done to bring these to folks like me. I have been and always will be a huge fan of Mr. Velvet!

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  2. Thank you so much for the videos of Jim. I love them all! I have been a big fan of Jim Reeves since I was 14-15 years old, thanks to my parents. (Now I am 60). He has always been number one artist in my life. I have been listeing to his songs nearly every day of my life. Noone has a voice like Jim Reeves. And thank you a lot, Larry, for the book of "his untold story". I have missed a book like this for decades. Best regards, Tom Evensen, Oslo, Norway.

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  3. Hello, Larry, and thank you for all your efforts to promote the legacy of Jim Reeves! Do you know who Jim sings "Bimbo" with in Njårdhallen in Oslo in april 1964? Regards from Petter Olsen, Bryne, Norway

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    1. The man singing with Jim in Norway was Henry Strzelecki, who played bass on a number of Reeves' recording sessions. Jim took two of his band members — Dean Manuel and Leo Jackson — with him on the European tour, and Chet Atkins (who also appeared) took two: Henry and also Kenneth Buttrey. I interviewed both Henry and Kenny and they are quoted in my book.

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