Jim was usually the headliner, so would close a package show. He didn't want his musicians worn out backing other acts ahead of him. He wanted the band to be fresh so they could be at their best when they accompanied him. It only makes sense.
BTW, Jim's band was one of the only -- if not THE only -- band in Nashville who was kept on salary. Other musicians were paid by artists on a per-show basis. This was both good and bad from their standpoint. Reeves also felt that since he was paying them even when they were not on the road, they should be available to rehearse with him, etc. whenever he chose. This played havoc with their private social lives, as Leo Jackson observed. Jim was a stern taskmaster when it came to his music, but on the other hand when you listen to his live shows, they DID have a lot of fun too. He did not permit his boys to smoke on stage (something other bands WERE allowed to do), and he always outfitted them in very nice attire that complemented whatever he was wearing. He would take them shopping at Nashville clothiers after hours (as I recount in my book, "Jim Reeves: His Untold Story") and they'd pick out outfits. Some he had custom-made.
Jim thought a lot of his band members and they of him. Even James Kirkland, who had some conflicts with Jim, and quit the band, is quoted in my book telling Reeves the last time he saw him that Jim was the sorriest s.o.b. he'd ever worked for, but as Jim's face turned red in anger, Kirkland added, "but you're also the best singer that ever walked out on anybody's stage." Whereupon Jim broke into a broad grin and laughed, "Coming from you Fargo (James' nickname as one of the Lump Lump Boys), that's a compliment..."
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