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Jimmie Osborne
Born:  April 8, 1923
Died:  December 26, 1957
KWKH Louisiana Hayride
WLS National Barn Dance
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WKLO Louisville, KY
WLAP Lexington, KY
WLEX Lexington, KY

About the Artist

Jimmie Osborne: The Kentucky Folk Singer
By Howard Vokes and Jay Taylor

When Jimmie Osborne, the very popular "Kentucky Folk Singer" died on December 26, 1958 of self-inflicted gun wounds at the age of 35, he left behind a great void in the world of country music which is still mourned today—more than 37 years after his passing.

Jimmie Osborne was borne in 1923 in Winchester, Kentucky. He grew up loving to sing and play the guitar. His dad bought him a fiddle, but Jimmie asked him to take it back and trade it in for a guitar. He got his guitar and a neighbor helped him learn some chords and from that point on, Jimmie Osborne's star began to rise.

After graduating from high school in 1940, Jimmie married a pretty little blonde by the name of Margaret Lacy. Around the same time, he entered an amateur contest at a nearby high school and won first place, which soon got him a job on WLAP in Lexington, Kentucky.

In I946 Jimmie got his first big break and moved to KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana, the home of the Louisiana Hayride. He worked there with the Bailes Brothers and traveled some 50,000 miles making personal appearances throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. He quickly became one of the leading folk singers in the Gulf coast area.

Later in his career, he performed on WSM's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee; WLS' National Barn Dance in Chicago as well as on WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio and WGRC in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jimmie did quite a bit of disc jockey work in his time that he spent on radio station WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky. His show was quite a hit with the listeners since he tended to play the songs they most wanted to hear.

In September 1947, Jimmie landed a recording contract with King Records in Cincinnati, Ohio where his first recording, "My Heart Echoes" made it to Number 10 on the Billboard Juke Box Survey. Other hits he had included: "Mom Is Dying Tonight", "A Vacant Sign Upon My Heart", "Tears of Saint Ann", "God Please Protect America", and perhaps his all-time greatest recording, "The Death of Little Kathy Fiscus", the tragic, true story of a little girl who suffocated in an abandoned well in San Marino, California. Mr. Osborne received some 2,000 fan letters within three days of the song's release for air play.

Jimmie wrote most of his own songs, and until his death, he recorded exclusively for King Records and wrote for the Lois Music Publishing Company. He wrote other songs such as:

  • The Door To My Heart Is Wide Open
  • He'll Come Like A Thief In The Night
  • What A Price To Pay For Love
  • God Has Taken My Flower
  • This Evil Life Don't Pay
  • I Hate To Be Jealous
  • Nag, Nag, Nag
  • Mama Don't Agree
  • The Moon Is Weeping Over You
  • It's Just a Habit With You
  • Give Me Back My Ring and Picture
  • We Can't Take It With Us To Our Grave
  • How Many Hearts Can You Break
  • You Get The Roses, I Get The Thorns

Yet in the midst of all Jimmie Osborne's life, there was a mystery that no one knew what led him to taking his own life. He seemingly had it all, good, popular, upbeat. The books at the authors' disposal have little or nothing about him or his life, from which one might postulate a conclusion.


An article in an old Country Song Roundup magazine back in June 1951 said Jimmie was a "...wiry guy, with a smile that lights up his whole face, a smooth singing voice, a knack for playing a good guitar and a keen sense of originality."

Back then, he had just joined WVLK in Lexington, KY. In talking about his career and early attachment to the guitar and music, Jimmie was quoted, "...my success is just a big dream come true."

He had started with The Kentucky Mountain Barn Dance that was held in Lexington, KY every Saturday night on January 1, 1951. He was expressing aspirations to stay there a while during that interview. He said:

"I've got some real friends in Kentucky, and I would hate to ever leave them. However, it's kind of hard to tell what state is the best, for every place I've been, folks have been swell."

For information regarding Jimmie Osborne recordings, you may write to:

Stephen Hawkins
c/o Highland Music, Inc.
Three Parklane Boulevard
Suite 1020
Dearborn, MI 48126

-or-

Chris Davis
c/o International Marketing Group (IMG)
1900 Elm Hill Pike
Nashville, TN 37210
Toll Free: 1-800-251-4040

Recordings
 
King
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1363 A Blue Days And Lonely Nights
  1363 B Invest Your Little Heart In Mine
  1412 A Married On Paper
  1412 B When You Told Me That You Love Me, How You Lied
  1484 A Too Many Friends
  1484 B You Can't Sometimes Hardly Ever Tell
  1501 A Victims Of An Innocent Dance
  1501 B A Sinner's Love Affair
  715 A My Heart Echoes
  715 B Your Lies Have Broken My Heart
  725 A Forever Far Apart
  725 B It's So Hard To Smile
  736 A Mom Is Dying Tonight
  736 B A Vacant Sign Upon My Heart
  768 A Son, Please Meet Me In Heaven
  768 B Not Unloved Nor Unclaimed
  788 A The Death Of Little Kathy Fiscus
  788 B A Bundle Of Kisses
  817 A Your Lovin' And Huggin'
  831 A Forever And Ever
  831 B I'm Gonna Strut My Stuff
  863 A What A Price To Pay For Love
  863 B You're The Only Angel
  878 A You Get The Roses, I Get The Thorns
  878 B Helpless Heart
  893 A The Moon Is Weeping Over You
  893 B God, Please Protect America
  908 A Old Family Bible
  908 B Thank God For Victory In Korea
  926 A The Door To My Heart
  926 B No Longer An Orphan
  942 A My Saddest Mistake (Took My Son From Me)
  942 B No Bitter Tears
  958 A I Hate To Be Jealous
  958 B Tell Me Daddy
  971 A The Arm Of God
  971 B He'll Come Like A Thief In The Night
  988 A Voice Of Free America
  988 B It's Just A Habit