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Maxine Brown, member of the groundbreaking trio 'The Browns,' is dead at 87

Junie Sihlangu
Jan 23, 2019
10:42 A.M.
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Maxine Brown Russell was well-known for being a member of the trio The Browns. The band consisted of herself and her two siblings.

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The country singer passed away on Monday in hospice care in Little Rock, Arkansas. At the time of her death, she was surrounded by family.

Maxine Brown Russell, 87, passed away from complications of kidney and heart disease. Her music career with the band The Browns lasted from the 1950s until the 1960s.

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Her band members were siblings, Jim Ed, and Bonnie Brown. In the late 50s, the vocal group was praised for bridging the gap between pop and country music.

In 1959 the group released the single, “The Three Bells.” The song was based on the 1945 French track “Les Trois Cloches.”

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The famous single stayed the number one hit for 10-weeks on the country chart. For four weeks, The Brown’s version topped Billboard’s Hot 100.

The band led the way for the Beatles and groups like Little Big Town. In 1963, they joined the Grand Ole Opry and made other hits including Jim Ed and Maxine’s Top Ten, “Looking Back to See” in 1954, and the trio’s “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow.”

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They’re also known for “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing” and “Scarlet Ribbons (for Her Hair).” The late star was born Ella Maxine Brown in Campti, Louisiana.

She was born on April 27, 1931. Her music career began in her teenage years when she joined her brother and sister to perform at church and other social functions.

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In 1954, she and her brother began appearing on Shreveport’s influential Louisiana Hayride. “Looking Back to See” became their debut hit and Bonnie joined them the following year.

The band received two Grammy’s for their work and in 1967 they formally disbanded. Maxine and her sister retired to raise their families.

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Two years later, Maxine briefly signed with Chart Records and recorded “Sugar Cane Country.” The trio reunited occasionally including for the Country’s Family Reunion series in 1999.

The country singer published her autobiography, “Looking Back to See” in 2005. In 2012, she was honored with the Ella Dicky Literary Award for the memoir.

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Three years later, The Browns were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The same year Jim Ed passed away.

In 2016, two months after the Hall of Fame announcement was made, Bonnie died. Her publicist, Kirt Webster, revealed that she passed away in Little Rock of complications from lung cancer.

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