Distant Drums was the title of a song which provided US singer Jim Reeves
with his only number one hit - albeit posthumously - in the United Kingdom in 1966, some two years after his death in a plane crash. The song remained in the UK charts for an amazing 45 weeks whilst topping the country charts over in the United States. During its time at the top of the UK charts the song beat off stiff competition from several major (and living) artists of the day including The Beatles
and the Small Faces
. This was a tremendous achievement for a song which Reeves had recorded for its composer, Cindy Walker
, under the impression it was for her private use only and had been earlier dismissed by both the RCA
record company and Chet Atkins
(a noted guitarist and record producer who worked with Reeves) as unsuitable for wider public release. However, it is understood that the song gained prominence during 1966 with the continuation of hostilities in the Vietnam War
and an increased public awareness (both in the UK and the US) of the difficult conditions faced by US armed personnel fighting in that conflict.
In 1966 Reeves' Distant Drums was named the UK's Song of the Year and he became the first overseas artist to receive this particular accolade.
"Distant Drums" entered the UK singles charts having been released over two years after Reeves' tragic death in a private aircraft accident on 31st July 1964. The song hit the top of the charts on September 22, 1966, remaining in this position for 5 weeks.
The song is taken from the album of the same name Distant Drums.