Jerry Reed Hubbard (March 20, 1937 – September 1, 2008), known
professionally as Jerry Reed, was an American country music singer,
guitarist, and songwriter, as well as an actor who appeared in more
than a dozen films. His signature songs included "Guitar Man", "U.S.
Male", "A Thing Called Love", "Alabama Wild Man", "Amos Moses", "When
You're Hot, You're Hot" (which garnered a Grammy Award for Best
Country Vocal Performance, Male), "Ko-Ko Joe", "Lord, Mr. Ford", "East
Bound and Down" (the theme song for the 1977 blockbuster Smokey and
the Bandit, in which Reed co-starred), "The Bird", and "She Got the
Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)".
Reed was announced as an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame
on April 5, 2017 and was officially inducted by
Bobby Bare on October
1 Early life
2.1 "Guitar Man"
2.3 1980s and 1990s
3 Personal life and death
8 Further reading
9 External links
Reed was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the second child of Robert and
Cynthia Hubbard. Reed’s grandparents lived in Rockmart, and he would
visit them from time to time. He was quoted as saying as a small child
while running around strumming his guitar, "I am gonna be a star.
I’m gonna go to Nashville and be a star." Reed’s parents separated
four months after his birth, and he and his sister spent seven years
in foster homes or orphanages. Reed was reunited with his mother and
stepfather in 1944.
By high school, Reed was already writing and singing music, having
picked up the guitar as a child. At age 18, he was signed by publisher
and record producer Bill Lowery to cut his first record, "If the Good
Lord’s Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise". At Capitol Records, he
recorded both country and rockabilly singles to little notice until
Gene Vincent covered his "Crazy Legs" in 1958. By 1958,
Lowery signed Reed to his National Recording Corporation, and he
recorded for NRC as both artist and as a member of the staff band,
which included other NRC artists
Joe South and Ray Stevens.
Reed married Priscilla "Prissy" Mitchell in 1959. They had two
daughters, Seidina Ann Hubbard, born April 2, 1960, and Charlotte
Elaine (Lottie) Hubbard, born October 19, 1970.
Priscilla Mitchell was
a member of folk group the Appalachians ("Bony Moronie", 1963), and
was co-credited with
Roy Drusky on the 1965 Country No. 1 "Yes Mr.
In 1959, Reed hit the Billboard "Bubbling Under the Top 100", also
known as Roar and Cashbox Country chart with the single "Soldier's
Joy". After serving two years in the United States Army, Reed moved to
Nashville in 1961 to continue his songwriting career, which had
continued to gather steam while he was in the Army, thanks to Brenda
Lee’s 1960 cover of his "That's All You Got to Do". He also became a
popular session and tour guitarist. In 1962, he scored some success
with two singles "Goodnight Irene" (as by
Jerry Reed & the Hully
Girlies, featuring a female vocal group) and "Hully Gully Guitar",
which found their way to
Chet Atkins at RCA Victor, who produced
Reed’s 1965 "If I Don't Live Up to It".
Reed is particularly noted and respected by his musical contemporaries
and new generation alike for his unique and intricate picking
technique, as seen in his composition "The Claw". As of December 2017,
this highly challenging technique is both admired and attempted on
numerous video instructional sites throughout you tube by pros and
In July 1967, Reed had his best showing on the country charts (#53)
with his self-penned "Guitar Man", which
Elvis Presley soon covered.
Reed's next single was "Tupelo Mississippi Flash", a comic tribute to
Presley. Recorded on September 1, the song became his first Top 20
hit, going to No. 15 on the chart. In a remarkable twist of fate,
Elvis came to Nashville to record nine days later on September 10,
1967, and one of the songs he became especially excited about was
Reed recalled how he was tracked down to play on the
Elvis session: "I
was out on the Cumberland River fishing, and I got a call from Felton
Jarvis [then Presley’s producer at RCA]. He said, ‘
Elvis is down
here. We’ve been trying to cut "Guitar Man" all day long. He wants
it to sound like it sounded on your album.' I finally told him, 'Well,
if you want it to sound like that, you’re going have to get me in
there to play guitar, because these guys [you’re using in the
studio] are straight pickers. I pick with my fingers and tune that
guitar up all weird kind of ways.'"
Jarvis hired Reed to play on the session. "I hit that intro, and
[Elvis’s] face lit up and here we went. Then after he got through
that, he cut [my] '
U.S. Male' at the same session. I was toppin'
cotton, son." Reed also played the guitar for
Elvis Presley’s "Big
Boss Man" (1967), recorded in the same session.
On January 15 and 16, 1968, Reed worked on a second Presley session,
during which he played guitar on a cover of Chuck Berry's "Too Much
Monkey Business", "Stay Away", and "Goin' Home" (two songs revolving
around Elvis's film Stay Away, Joe), as well as another Reed
U.S. Male" (Reed’s quoted recollection of "
being recorded at the same session as "Guitar Man" being
Elvis also recorded two other Reed compositions: "A Thing Called Love"
in May 1971 for his He Touched Me album, and "
Talk About The Good
Times" in December 1973, for a total of four.
Johnny Cash would also release "A Thing Called Love" as a single in
1971, which would reach No. 2 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart
for North America. It was also successful in Europe. It would become
the title track for a studio album that he released the following
After releasing the 1970 crossover hit "Amos Moses", a hybrid of rock,
country, funk, and Cajun styles, which reached No. 8 on the
charts, Reed teamed with Atkins for the duet LP Me & Jerry. During
the 1970 television season, he was a regular on The Glen Campbell
Goodtime Hour, and in 1971, he issued 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 talked out 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 for gambling. Aside from being a major
crossover hit, "When You're Hot, You're Hot" earned Reed the Grammy
Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male
"When You're Hot, You're Hot" was the title track of Reed's first solo
album, reaching No. 9 Pop and No. 6 on Billboard’s Easy Listening
charts. The singles from the album, "Amos Moses" and "When You're Hot,
You're Hot" sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs
by the R.I.A.A. The album also features songs such as Reed's
version of "
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town " and John D.
Loudermilk’s free-wheeling song "Big Daddy (Alabami Bound)".
A second collaboration with Atkins, Me & Chet, followed in 1972,
as did a series of Top 40 singles, which alternated between frenetic,
straightforward country offerings and more pop-flavored,
countrypolitan material. A year later, he scored his second number one
single with "Lord, Mr. Ford" (written by Dick Feller), from the album
of the same name.
Atkins, who frequently produced Reed's music, remarked that he had to
encourage Reed to put instrumental numbers on his own albums, as Reed
always considered himself more of a songwriter than a player. 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 Axe". 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.
Reed was featured in animated form in a December 9, 1972, episode of
Hanna–Barbera’s The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "The Phantom of the
Country Music Hall" (prod. No. 61-10). He sang and played the song
"Pretty Mary Sunlight". The song is played throughout the episode as
Scooby and the gang search for Reed’s missing guitar.
In the mid-1970s, Reed’s recording career began to take a back seat
to his acting aspirations. In 1974, he co-starred with his close
Burt Reynolds in the film W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings. While
he continued to record throughout the decade, his greatest visibility
was as a motion picture star, almost always in tandem with headliner
Reynolds; after 1976's Gator, Reed appeared in 1978's
1979's Hot Stuff. He also co-starred in all three of the Smokey and
the Bandit films; the first, which premiered in 1977, landed Reed a
No. 2 hit with the soundtrack's "East Bound and Down".
In 1977, Reed joined entrepreneur
Larry Schmittou and other country
music stars, such as Conway Twitty, Cal Smith, Larry Gatlin, and
Richard Sterban, as investors in the Nashville Sounds, a minor league
baseball team of the Double-A Southern League that began play in
He made two guest appearances on the sitcom Alice, in 1978 and 1981.
Reed also took a stab at hosting a TV variety show, filming two
episodes of The
Jerry Reed Show in 1976.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band released a version
of "Amos Moses" in 1976.
In 1979, he released a record comprising both vocal and instrumental
selections titled, appropriately enough, "Half & Half". It was
followed one year later by
Jerry Reed Sings Jim Croce, a tribute to
the late singer/songwriter. He also starred in a TV movie in that year
entitled Concrete Cowboys.
1980s and 1990s
In January 1980, Reed began work on the "Guitar Man" re-recording
being produced by Elvis’s producer Felton Jarvis. With a new "hopped
up" guitar line, and
Elvis on lead vocals, Reed and the band gave the
song an adrenaline punch that shot it straight to No. 1 on the country
In 1982, Reed"s career as a singles artist was revitalized by the
chart-topping hit "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)", followed
by "The Bird", which peaked at No. 2. His last chart hit, "I'm a
Slave", appeared in 1983. That same year, he co-starred with Robin
Walter Matthau in the Michael Ritchie comedy The
Survivors. Reed guest-starred in the October 13, 1983, episode of
Mama's Family, “The Return of Leonard Oates” (Episode 13, Season
2), as Naomi Harper’s ex-husband.
He accepted the invitation to open for the British group Dexys
Midnight Runners in the US in 1984, yet left the tour early to appear
on the country music comedy TV show Hee-Haw.
After an unsuccessful 1986 LP, Lookin' at You, Reed focused on touring
until 1992 when he and Atkins reunited for the album Sneakin' Around
before he again returned to the road. In the meantime, Reed appeared
in several interviews and commercial spots for Mid-South Wrestling.
Reed had a role as a commander/Huey pilot for Danny Glover's character
in the 1988 movie
Bat*21 starring Gene Hackman. He also acted as
executive producer and screenwriter on this film.
Reed starred in the 1998
Adam Sandler film, The Waterboy, as Red
Beaulieu, the movie’s chief antagonist and the head coach for the
University of Louisiana Cougars football team.
He teamed up with country superstars Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis, and
Bobby Bare in the group Old Dogs. They recorded one album, in 1998,
entitled Old Dogs, with songs written by Shel Silverstein. (Reed sang
lead on "Young Man’s Job" and "
Elvis Has Left The Building", the
latter possibly in deference to Elvis' helping launch his career.)
In 1998, the American rock band Primus covered the Reed song "Amos
Moses" on the EP titled Rhinoplasty.
In October 2004, "Amos Moses" was featured on the Grand Theft Auto:
San Andreas soundtrack, playing on fictional radio station K-Rose. In
2007, UK band
Alabama 3 (Known as A3 in the United States) covered his
hit "Amos Moses" on their album M.O.R..
In June 2005, American guitarist
Eric Johnson released his album
Bloom, which contained a track titled "Tribute to Jerry Reed" in
commemoration of his works.
Reed appeared as a guest on the fishing television series Bill Dance
Outdoors. In one memorable appearance, Reed caught a particularly big
largemouth bass and planned to have it preserved and mounted by a
taxidermist. Host Bill Dance objected to this plan and freed the fish
when Reed wasn’t looking. Reed became enraged when he discovered
what had happened and chased Dance off the boat and to shore. This
incident was also mentioned in one of Jeff Foxworthy's stand-up comedy
"She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)" was used in the 2010 film,
The Bounty Hunter during the scene where Milo (Gerard Butler) searches
Nicole’s (Jennifer Aniston) apartment.
"You Took All the Ramblin' Out of Me" was used in the 2013 video game
Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto V, on the radio station Rebel Radio Jerry's song
"Amos Moses" was also covered by the band County Road 5.
Personal life and death
Reed married country singer
Priscilla Mitchell on July 9, 1959;
together they had two daughters, who also became country
Reed died in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 1, 2008, of
complications from emphysema at the age of 71. One week later,
during their debut at the Grand Ole Opry, Canadian Country Rockers The
Road Hammers performed "East Bound and Down" as a tribute. In a
tribute in Vintage Guitar Magazine, Rich Kienzle wrote that "Reed set
a standard that inspires fingerstyle players the way Merle and Chet
inspired him." He was survived by wife
Priscilla Mitchell and two
daughters. Mitchell died on September 24, 2014, at the age of 73
following a short illness.
Reed was a smoker for many years prior to his death. Thom Bresh, son
of Merle Travis and a close friend of Reeds, produced a 1990's video
with Reed acting out his desire to quit the addictive cigarettes
("Jerry Reed-Another Puff") that serves as a public service video from
Reed himself on the dangers of smoking cigarettes.
Country Music Association
1970 CMA Instrumentalist of the Year
1971 CMA Instrumentalist of the Year
1971 Best Country Instrumental Performance - with
Chet Atkins for Me
1972 Best Country Vocal Performance, Male - When You're Hot, You're
1993 Best Country Instrumental Performance - with
Chet Atkins for
Jerry Reed discography
Film and television
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
Voice, Episode: "The Phantom of the Country Music Hall"
W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings
Det. Trace Mayne
Main cast (4 episodes)
Smokey and the Bandit
Iron Duke Boykin
Himself (guest star)
Episode: "The Star in the Storeroom"
Doug von Horne
Smokey and the Bandit
Smokey and the Bandit II
Himself (guest star)
Jerry Reed Fish Story"
Main cast (7 episodes)
Smokey and the Bandit
Smokey and the Bandit Part 3
Cledus Snow / "The Bandit"
Episode: "The Return of Leonard Oates"
Himself - End Credit Outtakes
What Comes Around
Feature film (also Director)
Col. George Walker
Feature film (also Executive Producer)
Episode: "Educating Calvin"
Coach Red Beaulieu
Feature film (final film role)
^ Watts, Cindy. "Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed,
Don Schlitz tapped for
Country Music Hall of Fame".
^ "The Claw (Jerry reed) version Marcel Dadi" on YouTube
^ "'Bandit' star Reed dies at 71". The Tennessean. September 2,
^ Ernst Jorgensen,
Elvis Presley: A Life in Music (St. Martin's Press,
1998), pp. 234–236
^ Jorgensen, pp. 241–242
^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London:
Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 285 & 301.
^ Woody, Larry (1996), Schmittou: A Grand Slam in Baseball, Business,
And Life, Nashville: Eggmann Publishing Company, pp. 64–65,
^ Cartwright, Garth (September 3, 2008). "Jerry Reed". The
^ "The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers.
^ a b Friskics-Warren, Bill (September 2, 2008). "Jerry Reed, Country
Singer and Actor, Dies at 71". The New York Times. p. A23.
^ a b Oermann, Robert K. (September 29, 2014). "LifeNotes: Singer
Priscilla Mitchell Passes". MusicRow. Retrieved December 12,
^ "'Bandit' star Reed dies at 71". CNN. September 2, 2008. Archived
from the original on September 5, 2008.
Jerry Reed - Another Puff" on YouTube
Goldsmith, Thomas (1998). "Jerry Reed". In Kingsbury, Paul. The
Encyclopedia of Country Music. New York: Oxford University Press.
pp. 433–4. ISBN 978-0195116717.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jerry Reed.
Jerry Reed at AllMusic
Jerry Reed on IMDb
Jerry Reed at the
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Jerry Reed retrospective in Awaiting the Flood
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