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Jim Reeves Story
Like A Moth To A Flame
By Michael Streissguth
Rutledge Hill Press
1998
240 Pages
ISBN:  1-55853-607-8

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The remarkable life and career of "Gentleman" Jim Reeves, whose resonant bass-baritone voice and cosmopolitan song stylings triggered a shift in country music in the late 1950s, are documented in this enlightening biography, the first to be published since his untimely death in 1964.

From Reeves's impoverished childhood in Depression-era East Texas to his continuing international popularity decades after his passing, Like a Moth to a Flame presents an intriguing portrait of a man whose personality ran on two tracks: charming to many, hostile to others. Interview with many of Reeves's friends, associates, music industry colleagues, and surviving family members provide fascinating insights into the life of a musical trendsetter. For the first time, Reeves's professional baseball career is detailed through recollections of his former teammates.

Although Reeves charted six country hits while on the popular Louisiana Hayride radio show, he moved to Nashville and joined the Grand Ole Opry and RCA's producer Chet Atkins. Atkins, recognizing the potential in Reeves's velvet-smooth voice, produced a revolutionary new sound.

Propelled by such hits as "Four Walls" and "He'll Have To Go", Reeves toured Europe and North America. As his popularity soared, Reeves became even more driven, believing that his success would evaporate unless he performed constantly. A tour of South Africa with Atkins and piano prodigy Floyd Cramer led to a starring role in the South African film Kimberly Jim.

Reeves's impatience with his career and his intolerance of less-than-ideal performance conditions continued to grow. In July 1964 his impatience surfaced once again—with lethal results. While approaching Nashville at the controls of his own plane, Reeves flouted air traffic control's attempts to route him around a thunderstorm and plummeted to his death.

  • Michael Streissguth is a former television writer, producer, news service editor, and publicist who has written for numerous music publications. His book Eddy Arnold: Pioneer of the Nashville Sound was published in 1997. Streissguth teaches in the English Department at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.