(note: this piece originally published in 1993)
Known throughout country music as "The Guitar Man," singer/songwriter Jerry Reed gained
recognition not only for a successful solo career but also as an actor and ace session player. Jerry
Reed Hubbard was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 20, 1937; after picking up the guitar as a child,
he was signed by publisher and producer Bill Lowery to cut his first record, "If the Good Lord's Willing
and the Creeks Don't Rise," at the age of 18. He continued releasing both country and rockabilly
singles to little notice until rocker Gene Vincent covered his "Crazy Legs" in 1958.
After a two-year tenure in the military, Reed moved to Nashville in 1961 to continue his songwriting
career, which had continued to gather steam even as he was in the armed forces 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 the singles "Goodnight Irene" and "Hully Gully Guitar,"
which found their way to Chet Atkins, who produced Reed's 1965 "If I Don't Live Up to It." In 1967,
he notched his first chart hit with "Guitar Man," which Elvis Presley soon covered. After Presley
recorded another of Reed's songs, "U.S. Male," the songwriter recorded an Elvis tribute, "Tupelo
Mississippi Flash," which proved to be his first Top Twenty hit.
After releasing the 1970 crossover hit "Amos Moses," a hybrid of rock, country and cajun styles, Reed
teamed with Atkins for the duet LP Me and Jerry. During the 1970 television season, he was a
regular on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and in 1971 issued his biggest hit, the chart-topper
"When You're Hot, You're Hot," which was also the title track of his first solo album. A second
collaboration with Atkins, Me and Chet, followed in 1972, as did a series of Top Forty singles, which
alternated between frenetic, straightforward country offerings and more pop-flavored, countrypolitan
material. A year later, he scored his second Number One, "Lord, Mr. Ford," from the album The
Uptown Poker Club.
In the mid-1970s, Reed's recording career began to take a backseat to his acting aspirations, and in
1974, he co-starred with his close friend 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 High
Ballin' and 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 Number Two hit with the soundtrack's "East Bound and
In 1979, he released a record comprised of both vocal and instrumental selections titled, appropriately
enough, Half & Half. It was followed two years later by Jerry Reed Sings Jim Croce, a tribute to the
late singer/songwriter. In 1982, Reed's career as a singles artist was revitalized by the chart-topping
novelty hit "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)," followed by "The Bird," which peaked at Number
Two. His last chart hit, "I'm a Slave," appeared in 1983. 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.
- Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide