Jerry Reed

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Jerry Reed, esteemed songwriter, virtuoso guitarist, Southern film comedy essential and general down-home, chain-smoking, drinking buddy died on August 31, at 71, after a long struggle with emphysema.

Jerry Reed, esteemed songwriter, virtuoso guitarist, Southern film comedy essential and general down-home, chain-smoking, drinking buddy died on August 31, at 71, after a long struggle with emphysema. Which completely sucks. Reed, known for his disarmingly candid personal charisma, had a long history of acting beside Burt Reynolds and (gasp!) Adam Sandler, playing good ole’ boys and alcoholic football coaches. But his public persona understated his deep musical poise and gift for writing infectious songs the likes of which Elvis, Chet Atkins, Brenda Lee, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and the Oak Ridge Boys all eventually copped as their own. He was voted instrumentalist of the year in 1970 by the Country Music Association and won a Grammy for his hit single. “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” in 1971. This writer’s personal favorite, his mid-1970’s song about getting burned by a woman, “She Got The Goldmine, While I Got Shafted.” He began his songwriting career as an eight year-old when his mother gave him $2 guitar and taught him a G-chord. By high school, he was cutting class to tour with Ernest Tubb and Faron Young. By 17, he had signed with Capitol Records. In 1998 interview with The Tennessean, Reed reflected on his many years within the limelight. “I used to watch people like Richard Burton and Mel Gibson and think, ‘I could never do that.’ When people ask me what my motivation is, I have a simple answer: Money.” Thank God.

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