A  RARE GLIMPSE OF JIM REEVES IN THE RECORDING STUDIO 

 

 


The clips of Jim Reeves appearing on this website are arguably the rarest video of the singer to surface since his death in 1964. While it is true that other video glimpses of Gentleman Jim have circulated among fans for years, such as the Gannaway films, various TV performances, the Oslo show, and even 8mm movies, this is the only known video of him making commercial recordings in RCA's Studio B in Nashville. It is, of course, impossible to predict what may appear in the future, but to date, this is the rarest of the rare as far as significant Jim Reeves videos are concerned.

Ostensibly, this is how it came to be. It appears that WSM-TV in Nashville arranged for a reporter and a cameraman to film an RCA recording session for their local news program. Whether they specifically asked to film Jim Reeves, or he just happened to have a session scheduled when WSM wanted to film has not been documented. But on the evening of 26 February 1963, Jim was in Studio B recording songs for what would become his LP, "The International Jim Reeves", and a sound camera captured parts of the session.

That night, Anita Kerr was the producer instead of Chet Atkins, who usually produced Jim's sessions. Chet did produce Jim's session the very next day, but the night the camera was rolling, Anita was in the control room.

Several members of Nashville's "A" team of studio musicians were present that night. Jim's personal lead guitarist and friend, Leo Jackson played. Velma Smith strummed her rhythm guitar. Bob Moore played upright bass. Willie Ackerman kept the beat on drums. The Anita Kerr Quartet, minus Anita (in the control room) but adding Winnie Breast, sang back-up. And there were horn and string sections, comprised of some of the members of The Nashville Symphony, which contributed to the lush, wonderful "pop" sound of the recordings.

But the focus of the recording session, and of this video, was Jim Reeves. And he appears as few fans have seen him. He is dressed in a suit and tie. He probably knew the camera crew would be there because Leo Jackson said that Jim usually dressed more casually in the studio. He sings with one hand holding the music and the other in his pants pocket, and sways side to side. He is relaxed and easy-going during the songs, and in between. He is funny and has some laughs with Anita Kerr. He is self-deprecating when his singing is not up to his own standards. And he appears determined to make the best recordings that he can make, because he does not hesitate to do another "take" if he is not satisfied with the music.

This is Jim Reeves as you probably have never seen him. So, hit the play button again and again, and enjoy the finest voice in the history of country music doing what he did best: recording music for the ages.

The film camera rolled during three recordings: Golden Memories and Silver Tears, Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart, and Blue Canadian Rockies. No footage is known to exist of the first song of the session,  Heartbreak In Silhouette.

 

GOLDEN MEMORIES AND SILVER TEARS 

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The video differs from an incomplete one,  shown on a monitor at RCA Studio B, and also previously shown in a  British Country Music TV documentary  approx. 10 years ago. During that  footage, Jim puts his right hand to his right ear. On this video Jim mentions he wants to redo the recording. 

 

AUF WIEDERSEH'N SWEETHEART

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Only a very small portion of this song is on film. It appears to be made from 2 takes.  

 

BLUE CANADIAN ROCKIES

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 This recording shows a typical recording technique, known as 'patching'. When the recording begins, the camera pans from the French horn players  to Jim. After 28 seconds  a close-up  shot of Jim appears , the camera zoom out, pans to Velma Smith, who played rhythm guitar, and pans to Jim again.   It appears there was only one film camera in the studio.  It is there for very likely that this film clip  has been made from 2 takes.  Jim was clearly  not satisfied with the recording and wanted to correct  a mistake he had made.  He said: "Now let's do one more please".  Jim wanted to hold the last note a little bit longer  and the last part of the song was recorded again.

The next evening Jim recorded  (THERE'LL BE BLUEBIRDS  OVER) THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER, GUILTY,  THE HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG,  and TRUE.  It was to be a different kind of session than the previous day as can be heard on studio outakes. When Anita Kerr produced a recording session,  Jim  could make a mistake during the recording of a song and continue and finish the song and redo the part  where he made the mistake.  With Chet Atkins at the console Jim knew when he had made a mistake and stopped during the song, and continued from just before the mistake.   The song THE HAWAIIAN WEDDING SONG proved to be a difficult one for Jim. Somehow he couldn't get certain notes right, he had to redo certain parts several times before Chet was satisfied.  There is no complete recording of the song,  just bits and pieces. The difficulty Jim went through didn't show in the finished product which was 'patched' together,  it shows the strive for perfection  of both Jim Reeves and the recording engineer, Tommy Strong.     

 

VIDEO CLIPS PROVIDED BY MR. FRANK C. ANDERSON

 

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The complete video , minus the logos, is available for documentaries, biographies, etc. from The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. Contact them regarding fees, licensing, etc.