The primary writer of many bluegrass standards (with brother Jesse McReynolds sharing in composer credits) including:

  • “Border Ride”
  • “Drifting and Dreaming of You”
  • “Hard Hearted”
  • “I Will Always Be Waiting for You”
  • “Just Wondering Why”
  • “Pardon Me”
  • “Stoney Creek”
  • “Too Many Tears”

Early Influences

  • Claude and Charles McReynolds (father and grandfather, banjoist and fiddler)
  • Savannah McReynolds (mother, guitarist)
  • Oakley Greear (brother-in-law, fiddler)
  • Carter Family
  • Blue Sky Boys
  • Monroe Brothers
  • Delmore Brothers
  • Bailes Brothers
  • Sons of the Pioneers
  • Louvin Brothers

Came to Fame With

  • Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys

Performed With

  • The McReynolds Brothers, Jesse and James, and the Cumberland Mountain Boys, 1947-1949, 1950-1952
  • Hoke Jenkins’ Smoky Mountaineers, Augusta, GA, 1949
  • The Virginia Trio, Middletown, OH, 1951
  • Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys, 1952-1953, 1954-2002

Led the Way

  • Brought a smooth duet style to bluegrass, bridging the brother duet and modern country styles.
  • Member of the Grand Ole Opry, 1964-2002.
  • Most Promising Vocal Duo, Record World, 1967
  • Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 1993
  • National Heritage Fellowship Award, 1997

By the Way

  • The longest active professional brother duet in country music history – 55 years.
  • Jim’s grandfather, fiddler Charles McReynolds, recorded at the historic 1927 Bristol sessions as a member of the Bull Mountain Moonshiners.
  • At first, Jim played mandolin and Jesse guitar. When neither was making much progress, the brothers exchanged instruments.
  • A 1954 Capitol Records promotion booklet listed the following details about Jesse: height: 5’11″, black hair, grey eyes, weight: 145 lbs., single, favorite food: fried potatoes, favorite color: blue, favorite sports: fishing, hunting.
  • Played mandolin on The Doors’ album “The Soft Parade.”
  • Toured and recorded as a member of The Masters, a quartet of “superpickers” that included fiddler Kenny Baker, Dobro player Josh Graves and banjoist/guitarist Eddie Adcock.

From the Archives

“To really entertain an audience, you make 'em feel sad one minute and then the next one you get into, you get 'em hollerin' and laughin' with you and that sort of rounds out the show."
Quoted in Julie Knight, "Hoke Jenkins, Pioneer Banjo Man," Bluegrass Unlimited, September, 1985.
"When we first moved to Nashville, bluegrass wasn't doing that well. We had to get something on the record charts before we could get any work. And the only way we could get on the record charts was to get booked country. So that's where we went."
Quoted in Robert K. Oermann, "Jim & Jesse: Testing the Boundaries of Bluegrass Music - With a little Help from Charlie Louvin," Bluegrass Unlimited, September, 1982.
“There is a quality, an essence in Jim & Jesse’s music that has always set them apart as something very special. It is a kind of earnestness and near naivete, a kind of youthful, openhearted sincerity.”
“Ranger Doug” Green, music writer, historian, and member of Riders in the Sky, in the liner notes to Jim & Jesse: Bluegrass and More, Bear Family Records, 1993.