Bonnie Brown, the country singer who performed early country & western hits in the 1950s with her sibling group, The Browns, has lung cancer, the Boot is reporting.
Speaking at a luncheon at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, Brown told the crowd that she has Stage IV Adenocarcinoma in her right lung.
“It comes with great sadness that I have been diagnosed with Stage IV Adenocarcinoma, right lung cancer. I have recently undergone tests to determine the best type of treatment for this horrible disease. This news came as a shock to our family as we are still mourning the loss of my big brother, Jim Ed, who passed away from the same cancer in June. As Jim Ed said at the announcement of our induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier this year, ‘Cancer is no fun,’ and I agree. I have full faith in my oncologist and the many specialists at CARTI in Little Rock, [Ark.,] and I trust in them to determine the best path to my full recovery. I am surrounded by the love and support of my family and I am determined to live many more years.”
Bonnie Brown, along with her sister, Maxine Brown, and brother, Jim Ed Brown, will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year, in the Veterans Era category, for their work in the sibling group, The Browns.
After graduating from high school in 1955, Bonnie Brown joined her brother and sister in Jim Ed and The Browns, which, at the time, had already scored a top ten country hit with “Looking Back to See,” according to the Country Music Hall of Fame‘s website. Now a trio, the group moved from southwest Arkansas to Springfield, Missouri, performing a weekly radio broadcast as well as recording records. With Bonnie on board, the group scored further top ten country hits with “Here Today Gone Tomorrow,” “I Take The Chance,” and “I Heard The Bluebirds Sing.”
By 1959, The Browns were considering disbanding — until their song, “The Three Bells” (their version of a French hit by Edith Piaf), reached No. 1 not only on the country charts, but on the pop charts as well, and stayed there for weeks.
Other crossover hits would follow for The Browns, including “Scarlet Ribbons (for her hair)” and “The Old Lamplighter.”
Now firmly established as country superstars of their era, Bonnie and The Browns would spend the better part of the 60s touring across the world, appearing at the Grand Ole Opry and on other country-themed TV shows, and generally serving as ambassadors for country music. The Browns’ biography says as follows.
“During the Nashville Sound era (c. 1956–70), they helped country music broaden its domestic and international audience through increased broadcast exposure and booming record sales.”
The Browns called it quits in 1967, as Jim Ed pursued a solo career, and Bonnie and her sister, Maxine, retired to Arkansas to raise their families.
In 2015, Jim Ed Brown died of adenocarcinoma, the same disease that now afflicts his sister, Bonnie.
According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, adenocarcinoma can affect any of the mucus-secreting membranes in the body, including the prostate, the intestines, or the lungs. In fact, this form is the most common type of lung cancer. Although it can be treated by chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, by Stage IV, the prognosis is months, not years.
Bonnie Brown is currently convalescing at a treatment center in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she says she is “determined to live many more years.”
[Images courtesy of YouTube]