The Three Bells – The Browns

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………………….on August 3rd of 1959 The Browns, a trio consisting of siblings Maxine, Bonnie and Jim Ed, break into the Billboard Top 40 with their rendition of a Country flavored tune called “The Three Bells”. The record would go on to top the Hot 100, the Country chart, and somewhat surprisingly, the Billboard R&B chart. This song documents three stages of the life of “Jimmy Brown” – his birth, his marriage, and his death. It was based on the French language tune “Les trois cloches” by Jean Villard Gilles and Marc Herrand which was originally a hit in France for Les Compagnons De La Chanson and Edith Piaf in 1946. As mentioned this was also a #1 Country hit. It led the chart for ten weeks, holding the record for the longest reign by a group (of at least three members) for nearly 56 years, until Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” racked up its eleventh week on the summit in 2015. The English lyrics were written by Bert Reisfeld and first recorded by Melody Maids in 1948. The anglicized version was initially a hit in the US in the early 1950s for the Les Compagnons de la chanson without Edith Piaf. Jim Ed began recording as a solo artist for RCA Victor in 1965 and these efforts quickly began overshadowing the trio’s recordings. Maxine sang lead vocal on the group’s final singles released in 1968, “Big Daddy” and “I Will Bring You Water,” with Jim Ed only supplying background vocals. They disbanded in 1967 and were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in March 2015. In the 1980s, The Browns began performing occasionally in concert for the first time in nearly 20 years. In 2006, the trio performed “The Old Lamplighter” and “The Three Bells” for the PBS special, Country Pop Legends. On June 11, 2015, Jim Ed Brown died from lung cancer at age 81. On July 16, 2016, Bonnie Brown also died from lung cancer at the age of 77.