The Browns were a highly acclaimed and hugely popular vocal sibling trio consisting of Jim Ed Brown and sisters Maxine and Bonnie Brown who became famous beginning in the mid 1950s. Through primarily a country group, their numerous hits, all graced with their exquisite, close-knit harmonies, also encompass traditional pop, folk, and gospel music. Their best known songs include "The Three Bells" (1959), "Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)" (1959), and "The Old Lamplighter" (1960).
Formed in Sparkman, Arkansas, The Browns began in 1954 as a duo when Maxine (April 27, 1931 - January 21, 2019) and brother Jim Ed (April 1, 1934 - June 11, 2015) made their first recordings on RCA Victor. Bonnie Brown (July 31, 1938 - July 16, 2016) joined her two older siblings soon after in 1955, and the trio was signed with RCA Victor the following year. When Jim Ed was drafted in 1957, the group continued to record while he was on leave, with country singer Billy Walker and/or sister Norma Brown filling in for him on tours. The Browns became regulars on Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana and also appeared nationally on such programs as ABC-TV's "Ozark Jubilee," "The Ed Sullivan Show," and "American Bandstand." In 1963, they joined Nashville's Grand Ole Opry.
In 1954, Jim Ed & Maxine Brown made their national debut on Ernest Tubb's radio show with the self-penned and humorous "Looking Back To See," which reached #8 on the Country charts and became the first in a long string of hits through 1967 for the sibling group. The Browns had their first hit as a trio in 1955 with "Here Today And Gone Tomorrow," which also made the Country Top 10. Their greatest hit and crossover success came in 1959 with "The Three Bells," which topped both the Pop/Rock and Country charts, made the R&B Top 10, and soon after became a million-seller. This smash was followed by such other Pop/Rock crossover favorites as "Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)" (1959), "Send Me The Pillow You Dream On" (1960), and "The Old Lamplighter" (1960), the latter of which also made the R&B Top 20. The Browns' long string of hits also includes "I Take The Chance" (1956), "I Heard The Bluebirds Sing" (1957), "Teen-Ex" (1960), "Ground Hog" (1961), "Then I'll Stop Loving You" (1964), "Everybody's Darlin', Plus Mine" (1964), and "You Can't Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree" (1965), the latter of which became an Adult Contemporary Top 40 hit. Their final charting song came in 1967 on the Country charts with "I Will Bring You Water."
The Browns disbanded in 1967 after Bonnie decided to retire from the music business, and both Maxine and Jim Ed Brown went on to pursue solo careers. The sibling trio reunited a number of times during the 1980s and again in 2006 for the PBS special, "Country Pop Legends." Their numerous honors and accolades included being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
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Jim Ed Brown
- Morning 1970
The Browns Featuring Jim Edward Brown
- The Old Lamplighter 1960
- Send Me The Pillow You Dream On 1960
(This song was previously a hit for Hank Locklin (1958) and later also became a hit for Johnny Tillotson (1962) and Dean Martin (1965).)
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