Posted by Larry Jordan on January 7, 2022, 10:07 pm
As I report in my book, "Jim Reeves: His Untold Story," Jim had plans to record a Christmas song he liked called "The Angel and the Stranger." He definitely was going to cut it, and probably did a demo on it, though that has so far not surfaced.
Bill Walker, whom Jim met in South Africa on his first trip and was impressed with, had been hired by Reeves and put on his payroll. He was going to arrange Jim's music and also be on hand for when Jim hosted his own network television program. Reeves worked for over a year to facilitate bringing Bill and his wife over to the U.S. to live. The Walkers arrived a couple of days before Jim was killed and the two men talked on the phone.
Bill wanted to see a Broadway show in New York and since Reeves was planning to fly to Arkansas for an overnight trip, he said that was fine and he'd see Bill when he arrived in Nashville. Of course, JR perished in a plane crash in the meantime.
Eddy Arnold saw his chance to try to fill Jim's shoes. He hired Bill Walker and Bill told him about this song. Naturally, pathetic Eddy recorded it. He was so desperate to have a hit again (something Jim deprived Eddy of once he got to Nashville). As I previously reported, RCA and Chet Atkins betrayed a promise to Mary and let Eddy cut "Make the World Go Away" which, aside from LP release, Mary had planned to use as a single. She personally told me how infuriated she was by this. And Eddy recorded Jim's big number, "Welcome To My World," started dressing like Jim, adopted some of his mannerisms and even recorded songs in the Afrikaans language. Deejays started attacking Eddy's obvious ripoff and there were articles written about it at the time. I even overheard some disc jockeys talking about it during the deejay convention in Nashville one year when I was visiting Mary.
I have no respect for Eddy Arnold, who even got Barbra Manuel a lawyer and went out in the woods with him so he could see where Jim's plane crashed, and sue Jim's estate. Mr. Arnold was a pathetic man who was jealous of Jim's talents. I've said it here before: Chet even remarked that Jin sang the way Eddy WISHED he could. Reeves himself called Eddy "the poor man's Jim Reeves."
Anyway, the only thing we now have is a chance to listen to the song that Jim liked so much. Eddy's version is posted on YouTube and any fan of Jim's can easily imagine how much better Gentleman Jim would have sounded singing it. Bill Walker even did the musical arrangement for it.