DEL REEVES (By Shaun Mather)
Born Franklin Delano Reeves, 14 July 1933, Sparta, North Carolina
Country singer / guitarist / songwriter / TV show host.
Del Reeves was the youngest of eleven children. The odds were good that one of the elder kids would have a guitar. They did and during the '40s Del learned to play it whilst his brother was serving in World War II. He started playing on local radio at the age of 12, before he left home to go to college and then the Air Force, which led to a relocation to Sacramento.
While stationed in California, he did TV and made his first recordings for Capitol Records in 1957-58. He became a regular on The Chester Smith Show from 1958-1961, but knew that Nashville was his best bet to make in country music. He signed for Decca in 1961 and made his chart debut the same year with Be Quiet Mind, which went to # 9. Together with his wife he also wrote songs for others, Carl Smith and Rose Maddox among them. By 1963 he had moved to Reprise (The One Girl I Can't Forget, # 13) before moving to United Artists in 1965, where he would stay for 14 years.
He scored a number one country hit with the great trucker, Girl on the Billboard, one of the best truck songs of all-time, and a highlight of the brilliant Big Rig Hits CD on the Country Hall of Fame Classics Collection series. The rest of the decade saw plenty of chart action including top tenners, The Belles of Southern Bell, Women Do Funny Things to Me, Looking at the World Through a Windshield, Good Time Charlie's and Be Glad. The hits were smaller in the early 70's with '71's The Philadelphia Fillies hitting highest (# 9).
He moved towards retirement by the end of the decade, becoming a music executive. He was instrumental in the discovery of Billy Ray Cyrus, a much overlooked artist whose Trail of Tears was one of the best songs of the '90s. In 1996, Reeves was back in the studio, cutting Deisel, Deisel, Deisel with Jim Lauderdale for the Rig Rock Deluxe project (again highly recommended). Representative recordings: Baby I Love You (Bear Family BFX 15269, 1988) The Silver Anniversary Album (Playback, 1990).
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