James O'Gwynn

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James O'Gwynn
Birth name James Leroy O'Gwynn
Born (1928-01-26)January 26, 1928
Origin Winchester, Mississippi, U.S.
Died January 19, 2011(2011-01-19) (aged 82)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1958–1962
Labels D, Mercury, United Artists, Plantation
Associated acts Pappy Daily

James Leroy O'Gwynn (January 26, 1928[1] – January 19, 2011),[2] also known as The Smilin' Irishman of Country Music, was briefly popular between 1958 and 1962.

O'Gwynn, a farmboy, was born in Winchester, Mississippi, the son of a mechanic and a talented musician, he was raised near Hattiesburg. He learned the guitar as a child from his mother, and his earliest influences were Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, he dropped out of grade school to help out at his father's business and later served as a U.S. Marine for four years, during his tour of duty, he decided to become a country singer. He made his debut appearance during a campaign rally for a gubernatorial candidate while on leave, the candidate suggested O'Gwynn contact Houston deejay Hal Harris, who in turn introduced the young soldier to Biff Collie, the producer and host of Houston Jamboree. O'Gwynn joined the show in 1954, as did George Jones. Between 1958 and 1962, he recorded for the D and Mercury labels, charting six times on the Hot Country Songs charts, his work on the D label was produced by Pappy Daily, best known for producing George Jones, for whom he recorded "Losing Game" in 1956. O'Gwynn joined the Louisiana Hayride and released two more singles the following year, he signed with Dailey's D label in 1958, where he finally found chart success with such songs as the Top Ten "Talk to Me Lonesome Heart"; and "Blue Memories," which peaked in the Top 30. In 1959, O'Gwynn released two more hit singles, and, with the help of Jim Reeves, debuted on the Grand Ole Opry, he moved to Nashville in 1961 and appeared on the Opry for the next two years. During this time, he scored two more minor hits, including "My Name is Mud," his last chart appearance, it proved to be his highest-peaking single, recorded while he was with Mercury reaching No. 7. In all he charted six times on the Hot Country Songs charts, during the 1960s, O'Gwynn worked with different major and independent labels such as United Artists and Plantation,[3] but to no avail; by the end of the decade, he had moved to Arkansas and gone into semi-retirement. In 1971, O'Gwynn tried a comeback, with no success.

O'Gwynn died from pneumonia in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, at the age of 82.[2]


Year Single Chart Positions
US Country[1]
1956 "Losing Game"
1958 "Talk to Me Lonesome Heart" 16
"Blue Memories" 28
1959 "How Can I Think of Tomorrow" 13
"Easy Money" 26
1961 "House of Blue Lovers" 21
1962 "My Name Is Mud" 7


  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 304. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  2. ^ a b "Six-Time Country Music Chart Hitmaker James O'Gwynn Passes Away". That Nashville Sound. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Wolff, Kurt; Duane, Orla (2000). Country Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. pp. 135–136. ISBN 1-85828-534-8.