‘Get a piano, any piano, Jim Reeves is coming . . .’
Music with Eddie Rowley
COUNTRY music legend Jim Reeves was one of the best loved American singers in Ireland.
And when the star with the soft baritone voice toured here in the summer of 1963, crowds swarmed around the ballrooms and halls.
Reeves loved the enthusiasm and warmth of Irish audiences, but he had one major gripe about the tour.
The Texan balladeer wasn’t high maintenance, and he’d only had one request for his shows — that a piano be provided at every venue.
In an era before Ireland developed a high standard of professional concert and entertainment promotion, the saga of the pianos tells a tale of the haphazard way it was run in the 1960s.
As the venues didn’t have pianos, there was a frantic search for the instrument in every locality. They were sourced from local homes, churches, pubs and some parish halls. Many were dilapidated, out of tune and the interiors covered in cobwebs.
Jim Reeves was not impressed. In an interview with an American magazine while on tour, the country superstar said: “They audiences here are some of the best I have ever come across, but the pianos are the worst!”
Jim Reeves was killed in a plane crash the following year, and our own Larry Cunningham went on to have a hit in the British charts with the song, ‘A Tribute To Jim Reeves’.
Opry le Daniel, a new series on TG4 presented by Daniel O’Donnell, will remember Reeves in a tribute show to be recorded at the Millennium Forum in Derry on Friday, May 18.
The hits of Jim Reeves will be performed on the night by Al Grant, Patrick Feeney, Matt Leavy and Tony Kerr.
This is a chance for fans to hear unique interpretations of the legend’s classic songs, including ‘He’ ll Have To Go’.