Jim Brewer Jr. passes

Jim Brewer Jr., best known for his long-time involvement with the Kentucky Ramblers, passed away on September 12, 2020, after being diagnosed with Leukemia and struggling several months with health issues. He was 82 years old.

Finley Jerome (Jim) Brewer Jr. was born in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, on March 16, 1938, into a musical family. His father, Finley J. “Pap” Brewer Sr. played with the Original Carter Family in the 1920s. 

From 1955 to 1963 he served in United States Air Force as a radar traffic controller.

He started his own music career, playing guitar, in the 1970s by getting together with George Tabor and forming Jim & George and Foxfire. Playing local festivals, they opened for such notable artists such as Johnny Rodriguez and George Jones.

During this same era, Brewer recorded with Wade Hill & The Bluegrass Professionals (Revonah Records R 503, 1974).  

Brewer was a truck driver for many years and drove the tour bus for his youngest son Gary and his band the Kentucky Ramblers, also acting as their road manager. He had an unblemished record in negotiating over four million miles on the highways and byways. Brewer officially started performing with the band in 1988. 

In 1989 he helped to start the family-run Strictly Bluegrass festival in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Kentucky Ramblers performed widely across the United States, and in February and March 1994 the band played in Europe, showcasing their talents for audiences in The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, England, and Scotland. Recordings from three shows and a radio program were released in August 1996 on the CD, Gary Brewer Live In Europe (Copper Creek CCCD-0144). 

Brewer has a solo album – appropriately called Truck Driving Man (Stretchgrass SGM Records) – and with his father – Finley J. Brewer, Sr. From Roan Mountain, TN (June Appal JA 0071CD, 1994) – and with his son – Two Of A Kind (Copper Creek CCCD-0113, August 1991), as well as featuring on all the Kentucky Ramblers releases since 2001, including their 40th Anniversary Celebration (Stretchgrass SGM Records). 

R.I.P., Jim Brewer 

Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions – Southwest Louisville Chapel.

His funeral service will be at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 17, 2020, at Rockford View United Baptist Church in Louisville, with burial to follow at Louisville Memorial Gardens West.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.