Jim Ed Brown died June 11 at the age of 81. For those of us of a certain age, we well remember Jim Ed. No, I'm not old enough to remember the Browns when they were topping the charts, but I know their songs, and you probably do, too. A family trio, Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie, had a monstrous hit in 1959.
For something a bit peppier, here are Jim Ed and Maxine (Bonnie's whereabouts are unknown) doing "Looking Back To See", which was later recorded by Buck Owens and Susan Raye (more relics!):
But I didn't get to know Jim Ed until 1967, when he began a string of solo hits, starting with this one:
If 1967 is too mind-blowing for you, maybe you'll recognize the name Alan Jackson from his Under The Influence album:
But enough about the youngsters. In 1970 Jim Ed had another hit with the song, "Morning". Alas, there is no embeddable video to be found, but trust me, it was a good song. If you'd like to view a live performance, here it is.
My fondest memory of Jim Ed Brown was a 1973 graduation road trip I took with my best friend, Alice. We cranked the windows down and the radio up and sang along with "Southern Lovin'". Naturally, I can't find a live performance from 1973 (because video didn't exist then?), but here is a later performance (doesn't quite do the song justice):
Later Jim Ed teamed up with Helen Cornelius and they scored some major hits, including this number one recording from 1976 (oh, I was a mom by then!):
Of course, there were the inevitable rumors about the duo - I don't know what's true or not true, and don't care. But frankly, they were both a little long in the tooth by that time to worry about "having" to get married. Nevertheless.
If you watch Jim Ed in this video and others, you'll notice his easy way with a melody. Perhaps it was familial, genetic - all the better. A good singing voice is made up of good genes, let's face it. Lots of us love to sing, but few of us can without a stretch (speaking for myself).
Jim Ed Brown was one of those artists who was beloved in Nashville, not as a relic, but as a gem. Witness the Bluebird Cafe (the real one, not the "TV" one) tribute, featuring Jeannie Seely, Mo Pitney, and Jimmy Fortune (of the Statlers):
Rest in peace, Jim Ed. Say "hey" to Alice when you see her. In fact, you two should do a duet. She knows all the old songs, just like me.