Jerry Reed who is also well known in the entertainment industry by the name “the Guitar Man” is a singer, actor and song writer. He is recognized as one of the greatest entertainers with distinctive characters. He worked with many great artists in the late 40s and won accolades for his creations.
About Jerry Reed
He was born on March 20th, 1937 in Atlanta. His passion for playing guitar started at the age of 8 when his mother presented him with a $2 guitar. The first chord he learned on that guitar was a G- chord. He did not have continuous education and dropped out of high school and traveled with Faron Young and Ernest Tubb in search of a career in music.
His talent was recognized at the age of 17 by Capitol Records with whom he signed his first recording contract. Jerry’s career took off as a song writer in the real context when Elvis Presley recorded two songs written by him. Both the songs “Guitar Man” and “ U.S.Male” became major hits and offered him chances to work with Tom Jones, Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee and the Oak Ridge Boys. He admits that the motivation behind his success is money and nothing else.
He spent 2 years in the military and moved out to Nashville in 1961 in search of an opportunity to become a song writer. Brenda Lee’s “That’s all you got to do” gave him his big break as a song writer. Hully Gully Guitar and Goodnight Irene were a couple of his early singles and they took him to Chet Atkins who sponsored Reed’s “If I don’t live up to it”. The year 1967 was a remarkable one when Elvis Presley covered his “Guitar Man”
Awards and Accolades won by Jerry Reeds
1970 – Voted the best instrumentalist of the year by the Country Music Association
1971 – Won a Grammy Award for “When you are Hot, You are Hot”
1992 – Won a Grammy Award for “Sneakin’ Around”
Career as an Actor
The mid 1970s remarkably led Reed into acting and he began drifting from song writing and recording. W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings was his first movie It co-starred his friend Burt Reynolds. With a couple more films in hand, he continued recording as a part of his career. His greatest hit of the century “Smokey and the Bandit” was the most discussed movie among the critics. He was featured as a costar in all three parts of the movie. However, it was the role of the Trucker which made Jerry a well-known figure among audiences.
Smokey and the Bandit
Jerry Reed acted in all the 3 parts of Smokey and the Bandits. The story of the movie revolves around Bandit and cledus – Jerry Reed. Two truckers accept a deal from Two big-shot brothers Big and Little Enos who need them to pick up a truck load of beer from Texas and get back to them within a span of 28 hours. The beer was required for the political rally held by Big Enos. He required Coors brand but it was not allowed to be transported across Mississippi legally at that time. His attempt to smuggle it by ship was foiled by the police. So he wanted to try to have it transported via truck. Bandit, an adventurous Trucker, accepts the deal for a hefty five figure payment. Things were fine until they pick up the stuff from Texas, but then, unexpected happenings change their adventure. Bandit gives a lift to a runaway bride-to-be, Carrie who left the groom at the altar. Unfortunately Junior, the groom, is the son of Sheriff Buford T. Justice and once the sheriff finds out what has happened, father and son go across the southeast in hot pursuit of the trucker. Bandit unknowingly falls in love with the bride and romance adds to the adventure.
Bandit, whose real name is Bo Darville, appoints his pal Cledus to accompany him on the journey. They hire an 18-wheeler truck for this job. They use strange coded language all the way to draw off the heat of the state police who become suspicious of their moves. The language they used has become the most used and adored language of modern Truckers; it is used officially in many parts of the world.
The movie is filled with a series of chases, comedy, drama and action of course. It is believed that Gleasons and Reed contributed 80% of the dialogues in this movie.
Impact of Smokey and Bandit on Modern Truckers
Smokey and the Bandit was not just a source of entertainment, it was also a source of inspiration and encouragement for many truckers. Because of this movie, many youths were inspired to become Truck Drivers. These days, Truckers still use Smokey and the Bandit lingo as their code language on the CB Radio. Many guys who watch this movie dream of how great it would be if they were a Trucker.
With Jerry Reed as the music director of the movie, the songs are some of the best of the classics. Though the sequels did amuse the audience, they do not contain the impact of the original movie. But yes, the complicated action scenes in this movie did certainly earn it a nomination for an Oscar.
Trucker songs by Jerry Reed
Jerry Reed has written and composed more than 50-60 songs in his lifetime. A few of his top listed numbers include Tupelo Mississippi Flash, Talk About the Good Times, Ko-Ko Joe, Smell The Flowers, Remembering, Are You From Dixie (Cause I’m From Dixie Too), When You’re Hot, You’re Hot, Georgia Sunshine, Amos Moses/The Preacher And The Bear, You Took All The Ramblin’ Out of Me, Another Puff, Alabama Wild Man, East bound and down and more.
The Smokey and the Bandit Theme song alone covers the entire plot of the movie; putting forth a strong challenge to the police to try and stop the illegal smuggling of beer.
Jerry Reed was a complete man in himself. He achieved his mission in life. But the world of music misses this evergreen actor/musician for his boundless contributions. In Memory of Jerry Reed Hubbard (March 20, 1937 – September 1, 2008)
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