Jim Reeves was at the top of his game. He was moving up the charts with his latest RCA Victor single, ‘I Guess I’m Crazy,” and was returning from a business trip to Batesville, Ark., on July 31, 1964. At the controls of his Beechcraft Debonair, he made contact with airport officials, telling them that he was in the process of entering a heavy rainstorm. Less than a minute later, the airport tower radioed him to ask if he was out of the storm’s path. He began to reply “Negative,” but his radio transmission went out before he completed the word -- as the plane’s blip disappeared from the radar.
Over the next two days, a massive search party combed an area just south of Nashville -- eventually finding the bodies of Reeves and his band member, Dean Manuel. Ironically, though his life came to tragic end at the age of 40, Reeves’ career continued to thrive with hit records on the Billboard charts throughout the next two decades (His last entry on the country lists came in 1984 with “The Image Of Me”).
When one looks back at the life and career of the Carthage, Texas native, his versatility as a recording artist has to be noted. The first three years of Reeves’ chart run were comprised of light-hearted, traditional-flavored numbers such as “Bimbo” and “Penny Candy,” but it was a pair of singles released in 1957 that would help to change Reeves’ style for the duration of his career.