Jerry Reed – Musician and Actor

Jerry Reed – Musician & Actor

Jerry Reed was more than just a musician, singer, songwriter and actor, he was the whole package when it came to entertaining people. With his laid back attitude, you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth when it came to singing and performing! One thing is true he knew how to read an audience and get their attention and keep it to the very end of the show. Also, he was a great storyteller to boot! He could easily be put on the spot and come up with crazy songs or guitar solos quite easily. I was lucky to see him perform on a few occasions and he was great! 



Furthermore, he’s been performing since the 1970s and early 80s. Even spending time in the Army and after serving, he reaches out to Columbia and Capitol records but wasn’t having any luck when it came to making albums and recording. At one point, when he was playing guitar, he happened to catch the eye of Chet Atkins. Who takes him under his wing and nurtures his session playing skills by having him sat in on sessions with Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare and countless others. Atkins also helps him get a recording contract RCA while recording music with Reed shortly after. 

Porter Wagner and Beyond!

His songwriting flourished as well with his first success with the 1962 Porter Waggoner number one hit “Misery Loves Company”. Needless to say, he would go onto write songs for other artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee and countless others. Atkins suggests to Reed to write and sing his songs in his own style and that he would record them. Atkins was true to his word and did a lot more than just mentoring Reed. They became close friends in the process.


Recording With Elvis

Shortly after, he records the instrumental “The Claw”, following up with “Guitar Man”, “Tupelo Mississippi Flash” which is his first hit. Shortly after artists came calling! Soon after Elvis wants to record two of Jerry’s songs but he can’t get that signature sound that Reed is known for. So Elvis has the producer call him (Felton Jarvis) to find out how to get his sound. Needless to say Elvis got his sound by having Reed play on both songs during the recording session. Reed also played the guitar for Elvis Presley’s “Big Boss Man” (1967), recorded in the same session.


In 1972 success would be sweet again for his number one Grammy winning smash “When You’re Hot,You’re Hot”. Various other hits would follow in the ’70s such as “Lord, Mr Ford”, and “East Bound and Down” which came from the movie he was best known for his role of Cledus Snow aka “The Snowman” in “Smokey and the Bandit”. His last hits were from 1983, “She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft)” and “The Bird”.


No Boundaries When it came to genres

The reason I’m mentioning this is because Reed could easily play so many different genres of music. In his teens, it was rockabilly and country, then rock, outlaw country, country rock, swamp rock, and jazz to name a few.  One thing that doesn’t come to mind is being touted as a teen sensation but back in the day, his songs were good considering Gene Vincent covered his song “Crazy Legs” in 1958.  Furthermore, Reed is also respected by his musical contemporaries and the new generations alike for his unique and intricate picking technique. He’s definitely a hard act to follow when it comes to his guitar playing. 


The 1970s – A Stellar Time For Reed

After releasing the 1970 crossover hit “Amos Moses”, a hybrid of rock, country, funk, and Cajun styles, which reaches No. 8 on the U.S. pop chart, opportunities start to happen for Reed such as teaming up with Chet Atkins for the duet LP Me & Jerry earns the pair the Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance. During the 1970 television season, he’s a regular on “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour”.  In 1971, he issues his biggest hit, the chart-topper “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot”, which is a story song, with the majority of the lyrics being spoken rather than sung. The song concerns the singer’s near success shooting dice, a police raid, and a judge who is supposedly a fishing buddy of the singer, but who nevertheless sends him down the river for gambling.  Aside from being a major crossover hit, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” earns Reed the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.


“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” Is the title track of Reed’s first solo album, reaching No. 9 Pop and No. 6 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart. Shortly after in 1972, “Me & Chet” is a second collaboration with Chet Atkins as well as a second number one single with “Lord, Mr. Ford” (written by Dick Feller), from the album of the same name. Atkins, however, thought Reed was a better fingerstyle player than he himself was; Reed, according to Atkins, helped him work out the fingerpicking for one of Atkins’s biggest hits, “Yakety Sax”. Reed, one of only five people to have the title of Certified Guitar Player (an award bestowed only to those who have completely mastered guitar), was given this title by Chet Atkins.


Other Projects He’s Done…

In 1972, Reed is featured in animated episode of Hanna–Barbera’s The New Scooby-Doo Movies, “The Phantom of the Country Music Hall” He sings and plays the song “Pretty Mary Sunlight”. With the song playing throughout the episode as Scooby and the gang search for Reed’s missing guitar. In 1974, he co-stars with his close friend Burt Reynolds in the film W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings. His greatest visibility is as a motion picture star, almost always in tandem with headliner Reynolds; after 1976’s Gator, Reed appears in 1978’s High-Ballin’ and 1979’s Hot Stuff. Furthermore, He also co-stars in all three of the Smokey and the Bandit films; the first, which premiers in 1977, and lands Reed a No. 2 hit with the soundtrack’s “East Bound and Down”.


In 1977, Reed joins others as investors in the Nashville Sounds, a minor league baseball team of the Double-A Southern League that begins to play in 1978. Also, co-starring with Robin Williams and Walter Matthau in the Michael Ritchie comedy The Survivors. Appears on Hee-Haw, records another album with Atkins called Sneakin’ Around, The Waterboy, a member of the “Old Dogs” with Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis and Bobby Bare. “Amos Moses” is featured on the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas soundtrack, and in 2005, American guitarist Eric Johnson releases his album Bloom, which contains a track titled “Tribute to Jerry Reed” in commemoration of his works. Pretty much working on projects until Reed died in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 1, 2008, of complications from emphysema at the age of 71.


Furthermore, be sure, to check out the other JB blog posts: