He was a country singer and television and radio presenter born in Sparkman, Arkansas to a musical family where he and his sisters, Maxine and Bonnie, were known as the singing group The Browns as well as each of them singing as solo artists.
In 1954 he and his sister Maxine became a duo and got awarded a recording contract and they were joined a year later by their sister Bonnie and as The Browns they toured with Elvis Presley and had Top 10 singles with “Looking Back To See” and “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”. He entered into military service in 1957 so his sister Norma took over his part in The Browns until his return, which saw them being signed by Chet Atkins to RCA Victor. After a slow start they suddenly saw success with their Grammy nominated single “The Three Bells” which shot to No. 1 on the country music chart and the Billboard Hot 100 and became the first ever crossover chart topper. They closely followed this with other chart singles and in 1963 appeared at the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1965 he ventured out on a solo career and in 1967 The Browns went their own separate ways. His first solo Top 10 hit came in 1967 with “Pop a Top” which would remain with him as the one he was recognised by. This would be the start of a long run of chart hits that ran from 1970 to 1981 and include “Morning”, “Something Sunshine”, “Southern Loving” as a solo artists and after 1976 in a duo with Helen Cornelius he saw hits such as “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers “, “I Don’t Wanna Have To Marry You”, “Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye” and “Born Believer” among many others.
He split from Helen in 1981 and opened the Jim Ed Theater, situated near Opryland in Nashville. He performed there as a solo artist and made occasional appearances with his sisters as The Browns and through the course of his career had 38 hit singles and released 18 solo albums, 6 with Helen Cornelius and 21 with The Browns.
He was also heard with his group The Company that make regular monthly appearances at the Grand Ole Opry right up until the year he died. In the world of television and radio he hosted Nashville on the Road, Jim Ed Brown’s Country Place, You Can Be A Star and Going Our Way, which he co-hosted with his wife Becky.
He was the host of the radio shows Country Music Greats Radio Minute and Country Music Greats Radio Show, which were put out by over 250 stations throughout America. He was made an inductee in the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame with his sisters Maxine and Bonnie and in 2015 he and his sisters were inducted into the Country Hall of Fame as The Browns.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2014 and passed away in Franklin, Tennessee, in June 2015 when he was 81 years old.
Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius recordings
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (Neil Diamond/Marilyn Bergman/Alan Bergman )
Here he is singing his top-ten hit, “Pop A Top”…