In 1959/1960, Reeves scored his greatest hit with the Joe Allison composition "He'll Have to Go," which earned him a platinum record. In the early 1960s, Reeves was more popular than Elvis Presley in South Africa. He even recorded several albums in Afrikaans. In 1963 he starred in a South African movie, Kimberley Jim, which was the biggest South African production up to that date. He had a No.1 hit on the United Kingdom pop charts in 1966 with "Distant Drums," a song written for him by Cindy Walker. Jim Reeves was one of the few Western singers, including music acts such as Boney M and ABBA, who became widely known in the non-European world, including Africa, India and Southeast Asia. To this day, he is affectionately referred to as "Gentleman Jim" in those parts.
Reeves died when the small aircraft he was piloting crashed during a thunderstorm near Nashville, Tennessee. His business partner and manager Dean Manuel was also killed in the crash.
He was elected posthumously to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967 and in 1998 he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, Texas, where the Jim Reeves Memorial is located.