Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



James Edward (b 1 April 1934, Sparkman AR; d 11 June 2015, Franklin TN), Ella Maxine (b 27 April 1932, Sampti LA), Bonnie (b 31 July 1938, Sparkman; d 16 July 2016, Little Rock) were a vocal pop/country trio '54-67, then Jim Ed solo, and duo with Helen Cornelius.

Jim Ed and Maxine worked as a duo in local functions late '40s, then a radio series on KCLA Pine Bluff '50-55. They won a talent contest on the Barnyard Frolic show in Little Rock; Bonnie joined '54; the trio appeared on Louisiana Hayride '54-6; signed with the Fabor label (a subsidiary of Abbott); Jim Reeves recommended them to Chet Atkins, their smooth harmony right for the Nashville sound he was creating, and they joined RCA '56 (while Jim Ed did military service, another sister Norma took his place). They made the charts with 'I Take The Chance'; further country hits 'I Heard The Bluebirds Sing', 'Would You Care', 'Beyond The Shadow' '57-9 preceded a no. 1 hit in both pop and country charts '59 with Edith Piaf's 'The Three Bells' (no. 6 UK): the French hit was 'Les Trois Cloches', by La Compagnons de la Chanson.

Further hits included 'Scarlet Ribbons', 'The Old Lamplighter' '60; 'Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On', 'Ground Hog' '61; they appeared on Dick Clark, Arthur Murray, Ed Sullivan TV shows, etc. and went on with country hits such as 'Then I'll Stop Loving You' '64, 'I'd Just Be Fool Enough' '66, 'Big Daddy' '67. The girls retired '67; Jim Ed had already recorded solo at the urging of his sisters and had a hit with 'I Heard From A Memory Last Night' '65; trying not to sound too much like Reeves, he had further hits with 'A Taste Of Heaven' '66, 'You Can Have Her' and 'Pop A Top' '67, 'The Cajun Stripper' and 'The Enemy' '68 (Maxine scored solo that year on the Chart label with 'Sugar Cane Country').

Jim Ed's biggest solo hit 'Morning' '70 was covered in the UK by Val Doonican. His chart career slumped early '70s, but he came back to the country top ten with 'Southern Loving' '73, 'It's That Time Of Night' '74; then teamed with Helen Cornelius (b 6 Dec. 1941, Hannibal MO) for series of duet hits from '76. Helen entered a talent contest in Quincy IL, was spotted for the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and began writing songs; she signed to RCA '75, had hit 'There's Always A Goodbye' '76; her duet with Jim Ed 'I Don't Want To Have To Marry You' topped the country chart '76. Their other hits included 'Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye' '76, 'Born Believer' and 'If It Ain't Love By Now' '77; they were named country duo of the year by CMA '77; more hits were 'If The World Ran Out Of Love Tonight', 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers' '78, 'Lying In Love With You', 'Fools' '79.

They split up '82; Jim Ed teamed with Dianne Morgan and Christy Russell in a new touring band. He also had a syndicated TV show Nashville On The Road, on which Helen appeared; she appeared on many other TV shows, led five-piece band Southern Spirit on state and county fair circuit; as a writer, about 40 of her songs were recorded by Lynn Anderson, Jeannie C. Riley, Dottsy, others; 'Ready To Take My Chances (Of Falling In Love Again)' was a hit by the Oak Ridge Boys. She had her own minor hit 'If You're Heart's A Rollin' Stone' '83.

Jim Ed made more than 50 LPs for RCA, including Born Believer '78 with Helen; Jim Ed And The Browns '86 on MCA/Dot was a reunion with his sisters. His last album was In Style Again (2015), with his sisters, Cornelius, Vince Gill and other guests.