Whatever Happened To Jerry Reed?
The year is 1971. A new decade is just getting started, Vietnam rages on, Richard Nixon is preparing to enter the campaign for re-election, we had left Mayberry behind and were being introduced to Archie Bunker and his wife Edith.
Oh...and what is that song on the radio? That one that, when you heard it, you had to turn it up loud and you couldn't help but smile. And what great guitar pickin'! Who is that??
That was Jerry Reed. The song? Well, 'When You're Hot, You're Hot', of course!
That great classic introduced millions of people to Jerry Reed. By the end of the decade, even millions more knew who he was, thanks to his co-starring role's in Burt Reynolds mega-movie 'Smokey and The Bandit' series. Who can forget the fun of those great movie hit's, and who didn't sing along with what is essentially the theme of them 'East Bound and Down'.
What a lot of people didn't realize was, this guy, this Jerry Reed, was already not only established, but becoming a legend in Nashville country music circle's by 1971.
Coming out of Atlanta, Georgia and battling through a difficult childhood that included several years spent in foster homes and orphanage's, Jerry was writing and singing songs by the time he was in High School.
A world class guitar picker, he was in much demand, both for his writing talent and as a session musician. He had several hit's, beginning as early as the late 1950's and right on into and through the 1960's. Having songs he wrote recorded by several artist's from Elvis Presley (Guitar Man) to Johnny Cash (A Thing Called Love), and playing guitar on virtually hundreds of songs coming out of Nashville, it was first in 1970 with 'Amos Moses' that he 'crossed-over' into mainstream hit's, and the above mentioned 'When You're Hot, You're Hot' that saw his career explode.
Writing...Picking...Entertaining...Acting...Jerry reed could truly do it all, and at the highest level's.
For me personally, I've always loved a song Jerry released in 1978. No, it wasn't one of his biggest hit's and didn't feature that famous guitar pickin', wasn't one of his legendary 'funny' songs. No...it was a touching ballad called 'I Love You, What Can I Say'.
So whatever happened to this massive talent, the legendary Jerry Reed?
Jerry passed away September 1st, 2008 at the age of 71 in Nashville from emphysema. Who knows how many current guitar picker's....how many current songwriter's were inspired by the legendary Jerry Reed? Thankfully for all of us, he left a treasure chest full of the great music and songs and stories that make country music what it is.