Jerry Reed (1937–)

Jerry Reed Hubbard was born in Atlanta on March 20, 1937. “The Guitar Man,” as he is known in country music, is a singer-songwriter who has had a successful career as a soloist and an in-demand session guitarist. He is also a popular actor and appeared in the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy of movies as Burt Reynolds's sidekick. He cut his first record, “If the Good Lord's Willing and the Creeks Don't Rise,” at age eighteen. Gene Vincent covered his song “Crazy Legs” in 1958, and with that Reed's popularity began to rise.

Jerry Reed's biggest successes come from famous artists covering his songs. Brenda Lee covered his “That's All You Got to Do” in 1960; Elvis Presley covered “Guitar Man” in 1967, as well as “U.S. Male.” Success continued for Reed as a popular session and tour guitarist. In 1962, his singles “Goodnight Irene” and “Hully Gully Guitar” caught the ear of Chet Atkins, who would eventually produce Reed's 1965 “If I Don't Live Up to It.” Reed first top-twenty hit would come as an Elvis tribute record, “Tupelo Mississippi Flash.”

Jerry Reed's biggest hit came in 1971 with the song “When You're Hot, You're Hot,” which was also the title track of his first solo album. He won a Grammy for this song in 1973. In that same year, Reed scored his second number-one single, “Lord, Mr. Ford,” from the album Lord, Mr. Ford. Reed always considered himself more of a songwriter than a player. Truth be told, if you ever heard Jerry Reed play instrumental guitar, you would wonder how he could also write such great songs! Chet Atkins was Reed's primary producer and always thought Reed was a better fingerstyle player than he was.

The most copied and played of Jerry Reed's instrumentals is “The Claw.” The common problem with this piece is that guitarists tend to play it as fast as they can, which makes it sound less musical.

Jerry Reed continued to release music throughout his career. In 1979, he released Half & Half, a record comprised of both vocal and instrumental selections. In 1980, Jerry released Jerry Reed Sings Jim Croce, a tribute to the late singer-songwriter. In 1982, Reed released the chart-topping novelty hit “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft),” followed by “The Bird,” which peaked at number two. The “Guitar Man” is a fixture in Nashville and can still be heard in movies like Adam Sandler's The Waterboy. Reed's latest recording, named “Let's Git It On,” was released in 2006.

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