The Browns Biography

Ella Maxine Brown (27 April 1932, Sampti, Louisiana, USA), Jim Edward Brown (b. 1 April 1934, Sparkman, Arkansas, USA) and Bonnie Brown (b. 31 July 1937, Sparkman, Arkansas, USA). In 1953, greatly influenced by WSM broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry, Maxine and her brother began singing as a duo. They first featured on Barnyard Hayride on KLRA Little Rock, before being signed to The Louisiana Hayride on KWKH Shreveport. They recorded some duet tracks for Fabor and in 1954 registered a Top 10 US country hit with their own song, ‘Looking Back To See’ (Jim Reeves actually played rhythm guitar on the recording). In 1955, after being joined by sister Bonnie, they became a featured act on Red Foley’s Ozark Jubilee and their recording of ‘Here Today And Gone Tomorrow’ became their first country hit as a trio. In 1956, with help from Jim Reeves, they moved to RCA Records, where they immediately had a US country number 2 hit with their recording of the Louvin Brothers’ ‘I Take The Chance’. The following year they had major success with ‘I Heard The Bluebirds Sing’, but it was in 1959 that they enjoyed their biggest hit with their million-selling recording of ‘The Three Bells’. Based on a song called ‘While The Angelus Was Ringing’ and sometimes known as ‘The Jimmy Brown Song’ or ‘Les Trois Cloches’, the song was popularized in Europe by both Compagnons De La Chanson and Edith Piaf. The Browns’ recording topped both the US country and pop charts and even reached number 6 on the UK pop charts. Between 1959 and 1967, 12 further hits followed including ‘Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)’, ‘The Old Lamplighter’, ‘Then I’ll Stop Loving You’ and ‘I’d Just Be Fool Enough’. In the early 60s, they appeared on all major television shows and toured extensively including trips to Europe and Japan, as well as running their own club in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963, but in 1967, with Maxine and Bonnie wishing to spend more time with their families, they disbanded. In 1968, Maxine had a minor hit as a solo artist on the Chart label with ‘Sugar Cane County’, while Jim Ed continued his career as a solo artist with RCA. The Browns reunited in 1996 for the gospel set, Family Bible.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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