The Three Bells

"The Three Bells", also known as "The Jimmy Brown Song", "Little Jimmy Brown", or simply "Jimmy Brown", is a song made popular by The Browns in 1959.[1] The single reached number one in the U.S. on Billboard's Hot C&W Sides chart[2] and the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[3][4] The version by the Browns also hit number ten on Billboard's Hot R&B Sides chart.[5][6] It was based on French-language song "Les trois cloches" written and composed by Swiss artist Jean Villard Gilles in 1939, who offered it to Édith Piaf in 1945. Piaf did the first recording of this song, with arrangements by Marc Herrand. This version, interpreted by Édith Piaf together with Les Compagnons de la chanson, was a major hit in 1946. The English lyrics were written by Bert Reisfeld and first recorded by the Melody Maids in 1948. The song documents three stages of the life of "Jimmy Brown"—his birth, his marriage, and his death. The Browns' male vocalist, Jim Ed Brown, coincidentally had the same name as the song's character.

"The Three Bells"
Single by The Browns
from the album Sweet Sounds by The Browns
B-side"Heaven Fell Last Night"
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Jean Villard Gilles & Bert Reisfeld
Producer(s)Chet Atkins
The Browns singles chronology
"Would You Care"
"The Three Bells"
"Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)"

Recorded versionsEdit

Among the many musicians who covered the song are Tina Arena, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Ken Parker, Ray Charles, Nana Mouskouri, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash & the Carter Family, The Tokens, Floyd Cramer, Daniel O'Donnell, Chet Atkins, Elaine Paige, Sha Na Na, Andy Williams, and Alison Krauss & Union Station. It was also recorded in Dutch as "De drie klokken" and "Bim bam", in Italian as "Le Tre Campane" by Schola Cantorum, in Spanish, retaining the title "Jimmy Brown", by the vocal group Mocedades, and in Corsican by I Campagnoli.

"The Three Bells", also known as "The Jimmy Brown Song", was also recorded for Decca Records in 1951 by the Andrews Sisters, the World War II boogie-woogie group of sisters: Patty, Maxene & LaVerne. While it did not prove to be the big hit that Billboard predicted it would be for the Andrews Sisters, it was nonetheless a very moving, harmonious rendition, in which the trio was accompanied by Gordon Jenkins' orchestra & chorus. The German title was "Wenn die Glocken hell erklingen".

The Browns' original version is composed in the key of G major. In the main sequence the chords harmonize as follows:

  • G,toD
  • D7,then back toG
  • G,toB7,toEm,toC
  • G,to D,then back home toG.

Chart positionEdit

Jim Ed BrownEdit

Chart (1969) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[12] 29
Canadian RPM Country[13] 22

Brian Poole and the TremeloesEdit

Chart (1965) Peak
U.K. - Record Retailer[14] 17

Daniel O'DonnellEdit

Chart (1993) Peak
UK Singles Chart[15] 71

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Show 11 - Tennessee Firebird. [Part 3], Big Rock Candy Mountain. [Part 1] : UNT Digital Library
  2. ^ "Hot C&W Sides", Billboard, August 31, 1959. p. 56. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  3. ^ The Browns - Chart History - The Hot 100, Accessed September 23, 2016.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 59.
  5. ^ "Hot R&B Sides", Billboard, August 31, 1959. p. 57. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 88.
  7. ^ The Browns - The Three Bells, Ultratop. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  8. ^ a b The Browns - The Three Bells, Accessed September 23, 2016.
  9. ^ The Browns - The Three Bells, Dutch Charts. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Browns - Full Official Chart History, Official Charts Company. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  11. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Hot Country Singles", Billboard, August 30, 1969. p. 46. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "Country", RPM Weekly, Volume 12, No. 8, November 10, 1969. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  14. ^ Brian Poole and the Tremeloes - Full Official Chart History, Official Charts Company. Accessed September 23, 2016.
  15. ^ Daniel O'Donnell - Full Official Chart History, Official Charts Company. Accessed September 23, 2016.

External linksEdit