JIM EANES (By Kevin Carey)
Born Homer Robert Eanes, Jr., 6 December 1923, Mountain Valley, Henry County, Virginia
Died 21 November 1995, Virginia
Born Homer Robert Eanes, "Jim" started playing at the age of 9 using the guitar bought for him by his father and by the age of 16 had elevated to vocalising in Roy Hall's Blue Ridge Entertainers.
Eanes made his first solo recordings in 1949, having spent the previous years backing a host of musicians which included Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe, while also showing himself to be a prolific song-writer (among others, he co-wrote the Hank Williams hit 'Wedding Bells'). Eanes formed his own band, The Shenandoah Valley Boys in 1951 and, several recording contracts later, Eanes and the band found themselves contracted to Decca where his bluegrass style was toned down in favour of a more traditional country style and which brought him some regional success, but not sufficient to prompt Decca to extend his contract. When Starday Records offered him a contract in 1956, Eanes assembled a new Shenandoah Valley Boys with banjo player Allen Shelton, fiddler Roy Russell, and bassist Arnold Terry. Considered one of bluegrass music's classic bands, this group continued into 1964 with minor personnel changes.
Eanes continued recording for various labels throughout the 60's and 70's, while reverting to his first love of bluegrass music in the mid 60's with a series of albums featuring both his own band and the band of Red Smiley (which Eanes renamed The Shenandoah Cutups). With limited commercial success, the band were disbanded in 1970, leaving him to continue alone.
Eanes continued with his heavy touring schedule which included reunion festivals with Bill Monroe and frequent visits to Europe, recording his final solo album, '50th Anniversary', in Belgium in 1982. Eanes had suffered heart problems since a major heart attack in 1978, and despite this and further heart surgery in 1986, and being diagnosed with emphysema in 1990, he continued touring and recording with Bobby Atkins, albeit on a smaller scale.
Jim Eanes died in Virginia on November 21st, 1995 due to congestive heart failure.
Recommended listening - The Complete Decca Recordings (Bear Family)
Your Old Standby - The Complete Starday Recordings (Starday)
Classic Bluegrass (Rebel)
Discography (courtesy Encyclopedia of Popular Music):
Your Old Standby (Zap 1967)***, Jim Eanes With Red Smiley & The Bluegrass Cut-Ups (Rural Rhythm 1968)***, Rural Rhythm Presents Jim Eanes (Rural Rhythm 1969)***, Blue Grass Special BS2 (BS 1970)***, The New World Of Bluegrass (Folly 1973)***, The Shenandoah Valley Quartet With Jim Eanes (County 1975)***, Jim Eanes (Original 1976)***, Shenandoah Valley Quartet (Outlet 1977)***, A Statesman Of Bluegrass Music (Jessup 1977)***, Where The Cool Waters Flow (Leather 1978)***, Jim Eanes & The Shenandoah Valley Boys (Early Days Of Bluegrass) (Rounder 1979)****, with Smoketown Strut Ridin' The Roads (Racoon 1981)***, Shenandoah Grass Yesterday And Today (Webco 1983)***, Bluegrass Ballads (Rebel 1986)***, with Bobby Atkins Jim Eanes, Bobby Atkins And The Countrymen (Old Homestead 1986)***, Reminiscing (Rebel 1987)***, Log Cabin In The Lane (Highland 1988)***, Let Him Lead You (Rebel 1989)**, 50th Anniversary Album (Rebel 1990)***, Hillbilly Sounds At Its Best (CowgirlBoy 1990)***, with Atkins Heart Of The South (Rural Rhythm 1991)***Jim Eanes And The Shenandoah Valley Boys (Bear Family 2000)****.
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