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 againwith 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.