R.I.P. Jerry Reed

Maybe if he had taken himself a little more seriously, more people would have know just how good Jerry Reed was with a guitar.  Of course, if he’d taken himself more seriously, he wouldn’t have been Jerry Reed.

Reed died Tuesday at the age of 71 after a long bout with emphysema. He was famous for being Burt Reynolds’ pal and for goofy country songs like “Amos Moses,” “She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft,” “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “The Bird” and, of course, the theme from his best-known movie, “East Bound and Down.”

Forget the rest. That movie is why I liked Jerry Reed. Not because he was going to win any Oscars. But you know how some songs, some movies, some TV shows just have a place in memories because of when you encountered them?

“Smokey and the Bandit” was that way for me.

It came out the last week of May in 1977. I was not quite 6, but this was the first non-kids movie I ever saw at a theater. That is, if by theater, you mean sitting in the back of a Dodge Dart at the drive-in with my parents.

(Coincidentally, another movie came out in that same week of May in 1977 that I would go on to see four times in the theaters as a 5/6-year-old before it’s run ended … “Star Wars.” I’ve seen it hundreds of times since, and now my son has already seen it dozens of times.)

Reed played the Snowman in “Smokey.” He drove the truck and had a basset hound with him. Only later would I realize how good a musician he was. A three-time Grammy winner, in fact.

Brad Paisley, a pretty good guitarist in his own right, as well as a singer of some Reed-like goofy songs, had nothing but nice things to say about Reed upon his passing:

“Anyone who picks a country guitar knows of his mastery of the instrument — one of the most inspirational stylists in the history of country music, a complete master. I’m in debt to him for paving the way for myself and the other guitarists of today.”

Reed was proudest of his musical abilities.

“I’m proud of the songs, I’m proud of things that I did with Chet (Atkins), I’m proud that I played guitar and was accepted by musicians and guitar players.”

I was going to include some clip of Reed playing my favorite of his, “Amos Moses,” but it seems all of his YouTube videos are suddenly “no longer available.”

So the best I could do was a short of him with fellow guitar legend Chet Atkins.

2 Responses to “R.I.P. Jerry Reed”

  1. My favorite Reed moments where when he starred on the Scooby Doo cartoon.

  2. How about Smokey and the Bandit III? Man was that painful to watch.

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