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Throughout the '50s and early '60s, Jim Reeves racked up a number of major hits and country classics like "Anna Marie" (1958), "Blue Boy" (number two, 1958), "Billy Bayou" (number one for five weeks, 1959), "He'll Have to Go" (number one for 14 weeks, 1960), "Adios Amigo" (number two, 1962), "Welcome to My World" (number two, 1964), and "I Guess I'm Crazy" (number one for seven weeks, 1964). Jim Reeves toured Europe and South Africa, building a strong following in countries that rarely had been open to country music in the past.

Jim Reeves always included a religious section in his stage show and also sang "Danny Boy" to acknowledge his Irish ancestry. A gooey novelty, "'But You Love Me Daddy", recorded at the same session with Steve, the nine-year-old son of bass player Bob Moore, was a UK Top 20 hit 10 years later. Having established a commercial format, Jim Reeves had success with "You're The Only Good Thing", "Adios Amigo", and "Guilty", which features French horns and oboes. His records often had exceptional longevity; "I Love You Because" (number 5) and "I Won't Forget You" (number 3) were on the UK charts for 39 and 25 weeks, respectively.

Jim Reeves was at the height of his career when his private plane crashed outside of Nashville on July 31, 1964. Pilot Jim Reeves and his pianist/manager, Dean Manuel, died when their single-engine plane ran into difficulties during a storm and crashed into dense woods outside Nashville. The bodies were not found until 2 August despite 500 people, including fellow country singers Eddie Arnold and Ernest Tubb and guitarist Chet Atkins, being involved in the search.

The police said the air plane apparently hit the trees at a steep angle, and was scattered in bits and pieces over a wide area. There was no indication what caused the crash. Officials at the Nashville Airport control tower said it had established radio and radar contact with the plane when the pilot - Jim Reeves - said he was running into heavy rain. This was the last word from Jim Reeves - a short time later the contact was lost ..

Jim Reeves was buried in a specially landscaped area by the side of Highway 79 in Texas. Though Jim Reeves had died, his popularity did not vanish - in fact, his sales increased following his death. He continued to have hits with such ironic titles as "This World Is Not My Home" and the self-penned "Is It Really Over?".

Although Jim Reeves had not recorded "Distant Drums" officially - the song had gone to Roy Orbison - he had made a demo for songwriter Cindy Walker. Accompaniment was added and, in 1966, "Distant Drums" became Jim Reeves' first UK number 1.