Battle over singer Jim Reeves’ royalties nears end (TN)


Nearly 50 years after country star “Gentleman” Jim Reeves died in a Brentwood plane crash, a Nashville judge will settle once and for all the fate of his still-lucrative musical legacy.

On Monday, a trial gets under way in Davidson County Probate Court to decide the proper division of the income from Reeves’ royalties — which earn as much as $400,000 annually for the estate of the late singer best known for the lyric “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.”

The trial will determine how much Terry Davis — the man who married Reeves’ widow, Mary Reeves Davis — is entitled to in his dispute with Reeves’ nephew and niece. The legal dispute has continued without resolution since Mary’s death in 1999.

On Friday during a pretrial hearing, Davidson County Probate Judge Randy Kennedy denied Davis’ request to postpone the trial once more, but allowed Davis to fire his current attorney — his sixth in the case.

Three of Davis’ former attorneys were also in court, seeking to join the case in an effort to recoup more than $100,000 in unpaid legal fees for representing Davis. The judge denied their motion, suggesting the attorneys would have to stake their claims after the trial.

Davis said outside of court on Friday that the case would likely include some “surprises” and expressed bitterness toward the Reeves heirs he has been battling in court for more than a decade.

“They’re a bunch of hyenas,” Davis said. “This has been a nightmare.”

The Reeves heirs — Lani Thomas Arnold and Bill McNeese — were not in court on Friday but are expected at the two-day trial that begins Monday.

Posthumous success

Reeves died in 1964 at age 39, a worldwide country music sensation, and his posthumous musical career managed by his widow made him even more popular, even overseas in countries including Sri Lanka and Denmark. Mary Reeves Davis judiciously released previously unheard music over the years since Reeves died, and between 1970 and 1984 there wasn’t a year when a Reeves single didn’t find a place on the charts.


Battle over singer Jim Reeves’ royalties nears end
Judge to decide division of royalties from late singer
Anita Wadhwani
January 21, 2012
The Tennessean