Just one week after revealing that his cancer had returned, Grand Ole Opry star and newly elected Country Music Hall of Fame member Jim Ed Brown died Thursday, June 11, at Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tenn. He was 81.
Born April 1, 1934, in Sparkman, Ark., Jim Ed enjoyed success as both a solo artist and with his sisters Maxine and Bonnie in the trio The Browns. The group’s song “The Three Bells” topped both country and pop charts for multiple weeks in 1959, and they scored hits with “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow,” “Just As Long As You Love Me,” “Would You Care” and “Money,” among others. The Browns joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963.
Following his sisters’ retirement in 1967, Jim Ed launched a solo career and recorded his signature song, “Pop a Top,” in 1967 and reached No. 3 on the charts. Over the next seven years, Jim Ed scored Top 10 hits with “Southern Sunshine” and “Morning” and a No. 1 duet with Helen Cornelius, “I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You.” The pair earned a CMA award for Vocal Duo of the Year and had subsequent hits with “If the World Ran Out of Love Tonight” and “Morning Comes Too Early,” among others.
Jim Ed was originally diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2014 and was being treated when Plowboy Records released his album In Style Again, his first solo album in 40 years. In March 2015, Jim Ed and his sisters were elected to join the Country Music Hall of Fame along with The Oak Ridge Boys and Grady Martin.