Jerry Reed: Actor and country singer

If the epithet "multi-talented" is today regularly overused, it seems wholly appropriate when describing Jerry Reed. An award-winning country singer, he was also a fine songwriter – his "U.S. Male" and "Guitar Man" became substantial hits for Elvis Presley – as well as a highly influential guitarist and a popular film actor, starring in the Smokey and the Bandit trucker movies alongside Burt Reynolds.

Born Jerry Reed Hubbard (later dropping his last name) in Atlanta, Georgia, he spent much of his early childhood in care. At the age of nine his mother presented him with a second-hand guitar and taught him the two chords she knew. By the time he was in his teens he was working in the city's cotton mills by day and playing in its bars and clubs at night. He was spotted by a local disc jockey who introduced him to Ken Nelson of Capitol Records. He signed to the label at 17 and the following year cut his first single, "If the Good Lord's Willing and the Creeks Don't Rise".

After the termination of his Capitol contract he enlisted in the US Army, but continued to write. His songs were covered by a number of stars including Brenda Lee ("That's All You Gotta Do", 1960) and Porter Wagoner ("Misery Loves Company", 1962). A brief tenure with Columbia resulted in a couple of minor hits, and then, in 1965, he signed with RCA. Encouraged by the producer-guitarist Chet Atkins to bring more of his own personality to his work, he recorded "Guitar Man" in 1967 and gained the attention of Elvis Presley, who went on to record the song along with "U.S. Male" a year later; Reed himself played lead guitar on the sessions.

He had developed a characteristic syncopated guitar style that echoed his heroes, Merle Travis and the bluegrass banjo virtuoso Earl Scruggs; it was eventually dubbed the "claw" in recognition of the way his hand looked as he played. In 1970 he showcased the style on an album of instrumentals with Chet Atkins, Me and Jerry. The record won a Grammy and was followed, two years later, by Me and Chet.

Reed's chart breakthrough came with the swamp rock-infused "Amos Moses" in 1970, which enjoyed success on both the pop and country charts. Appearances on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour television show gave him greater exposure and led to his first country chart-topper, "When You're Hot, You're Hot" (1971), a tale about crap-shooting which won him another Grammy. Subsequent hits included "Ko-Ko Joe" (1971), "Smell the Flowers" and "You Took All the Ramblin' Out of Me" (both 1972), and Dick Feller's dissection of the American obsession with the automobile, "Lord Mr. Ford" (1973). In that same year, he revived "The Uptown Poker Club", a song that had long been synonymous with the actor and singer Phil Harris.

Although Reed continued to enjoy chart success throughout the 1970s, with hits including "The Crude Oil Blues" (1973), "A Good Woman's Love" (1974), "East Bound and Down" (1977) and the duet with his daughter Seidina, "You Know What" (1978), he became preoccupied by film work. Having worked with Burt Reynolds on W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1974), he formed a close friendship with the star, proving an effective antagonist in Gator (1976) and playing the trucker Cledus "Snowman" Snow in the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy (1977, 1980, 1983). In 1998 he starred alongside Adam Sandler as a coach in the American football comedy The Waterboy.

Appearances on the country chart became rare, but he scored in 1982 with the novelty hits "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)" and "The Bird", the latter showcasing his talent for imitating his fellow country singers. Notable albums from this period included a fine tribute to the folk singer Jim Croce and, in 1992, another Grammy-winning series of instrumental duets with Chet Atkins, Sneakin' Around.

In 1998 he joined his fellow country veterans Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings and Mel Tillis for a tongue-in-cheek project, The Old Dogs, and released The Gallant Few (2008), a fund-raising tribute to disabled ex-servicemen.

Paul Wadey

Jerry Reed Hubbard, singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor: born Atlanta, Georgia 20 March 1937; married 1959 Priscilla Mitchell (two daughters); died Nashville, Tennessee 1 September 2008.

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?