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.
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.
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 ..
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.