Sep 022008

Multi-untalented singer-songwriter-actor Jerry Reed, best known for pickin’ and grinnin’ his way through some kitschy country-rock singles and trucker movies of the 1970s–frequently riding shotgun with Burt Reynolds–of died of complications from emphysema at age 71.

Among the things I’ll remember most about Reed are his awesome jawline (damn, that guy could grin) and the way his crumpled cowboy hat was always perched on his head just so.

Has anyone in movie history ever ridden shotgun with as much aplomb as Jerry Reed? To avoid confusion and give the man the respect his work was due, let’s be clear that in American Graffiti it’s not Reed who befriends/terrorizes Richard Dreyfus’ character as a member of the Pharoahs but Bo Hopkins, a one-dimensionally limited character actor who looked a bit like Reed and probably battled him for grinnin’ good ole boy roles.

A typical Reed novelty number.

On Scooby Doo.

With recent RTH hero Glen Campbell–perhaps there’s hope for restoring Jerry’s legacy.


  10 Responses to “Multi-Untalented Jerry Reed Dies”

  1. “Multi-untalented”? Is the day he dies really the best day to take a crap on him?

    Anyway, as kitschy as his songs could be, Jerry sure could play the hell out of the guitar, mixing country, blues, soul, funk, and anything else he could find in along the way.

    Here he is doing “Guitar Man,” a much better epitaph for him than a throwaway bit on Scooby Doo.

  2. dbuskirk

    Bo Hopkins (who always reminded me of James Dean) does NOT race John Milner in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, he played a member of the gang The Pharaohs, who befriend/terrorize Richard Dreyfuss.

    Multi-untalented? Like SourBob says, there’s more to Reed than most would know, especially as a guitar-picker. It’s like defining Willie Nelson as a Taco Bell shill.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    OK, I not only deserve the shit you’ve given me and more. My apologies to fans of Jerry Reed worldwide. My designation of him as “multi-untalented” is a little joke I have with myself based on the all-time multi-untalented non-threat of the ’70s, Ben Vereen. Reed has always fit that designation for me, despite his guitar picking skills. To compare him to Willie Nelson just because I took a cheap shot at him goes too far the other way.

    What really saddens me is that I confused Bo Hopkins with Harrison Ford while shooting these thoughts off. I also apologize to fans of Bo Hopkins.

    What my real intent was, when I put together this post, was to poke fun at our habit of overplaying celectrities’ achievements at their death. I thought I’d beat the punch of reading glowing appreciations of this “Guitar Man” (a good song, I’ll grant you – and one of the best things Elvis did in his late yearsI. I sincerely admired the guy’s grin and hat placement, but I’m not going to ring a bell for “When You’re Hot You’re Hot”.

    As they say, MY BAD! A failed joke. I’ll gladly remove this post if it causes anyone too much pain.

  4. dbuskirk

    On the rock side, Reed also played guitar on the Beau Brummels cult favorite BRADLEY’S BARN. If Mod’s country LP section ran deeper than ALMOST BLUE he might realize that Reed’s novelty tunes aren’t representative of his talent, his albums have a lot of well-written straight-ahead stuff as well. Those instrumental records with Chet Atkins are pretty swell as well.

  5. alexmagic

    Yeah, man, I gotta say you’re off base on Jerry Reed. Not only was he actually pretty talented, but I’d say some of his novelty songs were as good as you can get in that genre. Amos Moses!

    More importantly, he seemed like the kinda guy you could have a beer with. Even if, unfortunatley, it’d probably be a Coors.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    I don’t own Almost Blue, db. It sucks. I used to own Bradley’s Barn. That was pretty good.

    I thought I was clear about the fact that Reed was beer-worthy, shotgun-ready, etc. Good egg.

    Let me know if I need to take down this cheap shot. Thanks!

  7. I think I got it. I wasn’t offended. Leave it up is my vote.


  8. BigSteve

    More like wasted talent. Only a man who didn’t trust or believe in his own talent would go the Ray Stevens/Jim Stafford route. But seriously he seems to have decided that having fun was more important than creating great music, and who am I to argue with that?

  9. mockcarr

    So if you’re giving Reed the shaft, who is the “she” getting the gold mine?

  10. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks, TB and all of you who have commented. I believe this is stimulating some healthy discussion, much healthier than the piece I dashed off itself.

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