Bonnie Brown Ring, one-third of the Hall of Fame group The Browns, passed away on Saturday, July 16, following complications from lung cancer. The Arkansas native was 77 years old.
Bonnie’s love for music was evident at a young age and she began singing in school and at church functions. Her older siblings, Maxine and Jim Ed, performed together in the early ’50s, and after Bonnie graduated from high school, she joined the group, expanding it to a trio. The Browns performed on The Louisiana Hayride and found chart success with “I Take the Chance” and “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing.” In 1959, the trio recorded one of the biggest hits of the era with “The Three Bells,” which topped Billboard‘s Country charts and led to appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
As the Browns helped define the Nashville sounds of the ’50s and ’60s, the hits continued with “Scarlet Ribbons,” “The Old Lamplighter” and “Then I’ll Stop Loving You.” The Brown were invited to become Grand Ole Opry members in 1963. In 1967, Bonnie and Maxine decided to leave the trio to spend more time with their families, and Jim Ed embarked on a very successful solo career.
In March 2015, The Browns were announced as new inductees in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“When Bonnie Brown joined her brother, Jim Ed, and her sister, Maxine, in song, the siblings created an incomparable harmony: the smoothest and most elegant blend in country music,” said Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame CEO. “Bonnie offered harmony offstage as well. She brought people together with regal grace and kindness. She lived a remarkable life, singing on grand stages, raising a beloved family, entering the Country Music Hall of Fame, and breaking up with young Elvis Presley because he was, she said, a lousy kisser. Today, she is reunited with Jim Ed, and with her husband of 56 years, Brownie Ring.”
Bonnie is survived by daughters Kelly Bulleit and Robin Shaver and sister Maxine.
photo courtesy Webster PR