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," "A Thing Called Love," "Alabama Wild Man," "Amos Moses", "When You're Hot, You're Hot" (which garnered a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance), "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 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. Music and impromptu performances helped ease the stressful times the new family was under.
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 label mate 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, Charlotte Elaine "Lottie" Reed Stewart, and Seidina Ann Reed Hinesley, born April 2, 1960. 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. Peters."
In 1959, Reed hit the Billboard "Bubbling Under The Top 100" and Cashbox Country chart with the single "Soldier's Joy." After serving two years in the military, Reed moved to Nashville in 1961 to continue his songwriting career, which had continued to gather steam while 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 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."
In July 1967, Reed had his best showing so far 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 "Guitar Man."
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'] 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.
Bass singer Ray Walker of The Jordanaires remembered that memorable session more vividly, remarking that Reed flubbed the intro to "Guitar Man" repeatedly as a result of being extremely nervous. Walker also remembered the guitarist telling Presley, "God, you're handsome!"
On January 15 and 16th, 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' film Stay Away, Joe),as well as another Reed composition, "U.S. Male" (Reed's quoted recollection of "U.S. Male" being recorded at the same session as "Guitar Man" being incorrect).
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 spring.
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 USA) 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 entitled "Tribute To Jerry Reed" in commemoration of his works.
Reed has 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 Jerry 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 standup comedy routines.
"She Got The Goldmine" was used in the 2010 film, The Bounty Hunter during the scene where Milo (Gerard Butler) searches Nicole's (Jennifer Aniston) apartment.
Reed died in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 1, 2008, of complications from emphysema. The Associated Press wire service and CNN, however, reported the date of his death as August 31. 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. Reed died on Conway Twitty's birthday."
|Birth name||Jerry Reed Hubbard|
|Born||March 20, 1937|
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||September 1, 2008 (aged 71)|
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Occupations||Musician, Songwriter, Actor|
|Associated acts||Chet Atkins, Elvis Presley, Buster B. Jones|