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Jimmy Stephens
and the New England Country Gentlemen
Born:  May 26, 1929
Died:  April 29, 2006
WWVA Original Jamboree
WMAS Springfield, MA

About The Artist

Jimmy Stephens was the name fans knew him by. He was born James F. Papillo in Hartford, CT in 1929. Jimmy began his career as a jazz guitarist and classically trained vocalist in Hartford. However, he preferred keeping this a secret from his later country music peers. He was an educated musician whose talent and knowledge of music far exceeded many of his fellow musicians although very few of them knew it.

In his early days he was known as Jimmy Pop who played with strictly jazz musicians. But sometimes mostly for fun, he sat in with some of his country music friends, namely Jim Flaherty, Eddie Reed and Bill Flagg, playing lead guitar when their regular lead man was on vacation or sick.

Then one day, to the surprise of all, especially his jazz friends, he became strickly country. No more fast jazz rifts and complicated chord progressions. He switched to 'open chords' like many of his country peers and began sining three chord country ballads in his beautiful well trained voice. His vocal training brough a smoothness and style unequaled in the country music field. He was one of the very few country singers who knew how to use his diaphragm. He traded his electric jazz guitar for an open holed flat-top and changed his name to Jimmy Stpehens, who would soon become known as The Country Gentleman, a title that suited him well.

He refused to acknowledge his former jazz and classical training saying he ppreferred down to earth country music and his smooth renditions of country ballads made him the envy of many of his fellow musicians. He was noted as a "singer's singer."

He joined Slim Coxx's Cowboy Caravan as the featured vocalist performing at such places as Crystal Lake and Lake Compounce. Then went to work a few gigs in some of the Hartford night spots perfecting his new country sound. He then migrated to Wheeling, West Virginia and auditioned for the World's Original WWVA Jamboree where he was quickly accepted and became a featured performer.

In a short time he was the star of the show and though he never had a hit record he was very well accepted by his growing country fans and toured all over the Eastern states.

He became very close friends with Tex Ritter and Charley Pride and often worked shows with Doc Williams, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and was a special friend of Crazy Elmer.

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