Date Original

circa 1950s


This collection contains materials donated by David Jones, former owner and general manager of KARKTV. Jones had more than twenty tapes in his personal archives originally shot for a documentary on Jimmy Driftwood that was never completed. Jones loaned equipment to a California filmmaker and photographer to shoot the footage. After the project's completion, the filmmaker left Arkansas never to return for the footage. This collection contains film footage on videocassette and film reels. The footage in this collection features Driftwood at the height of his creative output and star power performing some of his hits at the Grand Ole Opry and around Stone County, Arkansas. Interviews with Driftwood and other famous names in country music are also captured on the films. It includes country music singers such as Chet Atkins, Porter Wagoner, and also includes footage of actress Jane Fonda.

Biographical/Historical Note

James Corbitt Morris, known professionally as Jimmy Driftwood, was an American folk musician. Driftwood was born in Timbo, Arkansas, on June 20, 1907. His father was folk singer Neil Morris. Driftwood attended Jon Brown College and Arkansas Teacher's College before beginning a teaching career. He started writing songs to teach his students history in an entertaining manner. He left Arkansas during the 1920s and 1930s, hitchhiking through the southwestern United States. In 1936, he married Cleda Johnson and returned to Arkansas to raise a family and resume teaching. In the 1950s, he changed his name to Jimmy Driftwood. He signed his first record deal in 1957 with a Nashville, Tennessee, song publisher. Driftwood went on to have songs in the popular and country music charts and win a Grammy in 1959. It is estimated that he wrote over 6,000 songs, some of them becoming hits for country singers such as Johnny Horton, who had a number one single with Driftwood's "Battle of New Orleans" in 1959. As part of his stardom as a song writer, Driftwood became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Driftwood died on July 12, 1998, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area






Resource Type



Jimmy Driftwood and Friends film collection, MS.001051


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Jimmy Driftwood and Friends film collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History