Jerry Reed Dies at 71; Played “The Snowman” in Smokey and the Bandit
Sadly, it seems as if there is a celebrity death each day lately. Today, we not only lost Don LaFontaine but we also lost Jerry Reed. Reed, who starred in action movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit,” died of complications from emphysema at the age of 71.
From the Associated Press:
Sony BMG Nashville Chairman Joe Galante called Reed a larger-than-life personality.
“Everything about Jerry was distinctive: his guitar playing, writing, voice and especially his sense of humor,” Galante said. “I was honored to have worked with him.”
Reed’s catalog of country chart hits, from 1967 through 1983, were released under the label group’s RCA imprint.
As a singer in the 1970s and early 1980s, Reed had a string of hits that included “Amos Moses,” “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “East Bound and Down,” “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” and “The Bird.”
In the mid-1970s, he began acting in movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit” with Burt Reynolds, usually as a good ol’ boy. But he was an ornery heavy in “Gator,” directed by Reynolds, and a hateful coach in 1998’s “The Waterboy,” starring Adam Sandler.
Reynolds gave him a shiny black 1980 Trans Am like the one they used in “Smokey and the Bandit.”
Reed and Kris Kristofferson paved the way for Nashville music personalities to make inroads into films. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers (TV movies) followed their lead.
Jerry Reed starred with Burt Reynolds in several blockbuster movies, recorded three No. 1 country singles, wrote one of Elvis Presley’s biggest hits and developed a fingerstyle guitar technique that other musicians are still analyzing to this day. When he died Monday (Sept. 1) at age 71, the entertainment world lost a genuine original who helped take country music and the country lifestyle to a larger mainstream audience.
Born Jerry Reed Hubbard on March 20, 1937, in Atlanta, he began playing guitar at age 9 and was just a teenager when he began performing in the Atlanta area on shows featuring Ernest Tubb, Faron Young and others. At age 17, Capitol Records producer Ken Nelson saw him perform and signed him to a recording contract. Although his early records were not successful, he also became a staff songwriter for Atlanta music publisher Bill Lowery. Reed’s “Crazy Legs” was recorded by rock pioneer Gene Vincent in 1958. Brenda Lee scored a Top 10 pop hit with Reed’s “That’s All You Gotta Do.”
Following a two-year stint in the military, Reed moved to Nashville in 1962 and began work as a session musician while writing songs such as Porter Wagoner’s “Misery Loves Company,” a No. 1 single in 1962. In 1964, he joined RCA Nashville’s artist roster at the urging of label executive Chet Atkins, one of Reed’s biggest supporters.
In 1967, Reed landed his first single on Billboard’s country chart. Although the track, “Guitar Man,” peaked at a dismal No. 53, the song got the attention of Presley, who recorded the song and wanted Reed to recreate the funky guitar riff he used on his original version.
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