Hey guys its Maddie and today we are super excited to show you guys the next episode of our newest series called “Trucking Culture,” which will cover all kinds of music, movies and other media that have made a major impact on the trucking industry. In today’s episode #4, we will be switching things up slightly by talking all about the man, the myth and the legendary icon of the trucking industry, Mr. Jerry Reed.
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Jerry Reed was an American actor, singer, songwriter, country star and truck industry icon who appeared in more than a dozen movies as well as composed and sang countless of his own signature songs. Born in Atlanta, Georgia to Robert and Cynthia Hubbard on March 20th, 1937, Jerry Reed Hubbard was destined for stardom since he was a small child who would run around strumming his guitar and singing, “I’m gonna be a star! I’m gonna go to Nashville and be a star!” Despite a somewhat rough start following his parent’s separation only 4 months after his birth, and the 7 subsequent years spent in foster homes with his sister, Reed was finally reunited with his mother and step-father in 1944.
“I got my first guitar at age of 7 and never laid it down. Momma taught me G, C, and D. I was off to the races son!” After graduating from O’Keefe High School in Atlanta in 1955 at the age of 18, Jerry was promptly signed by publisher and producer Bill Lowery – who cut Reed’s first record, “If the Good Lord’s Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.” Lowery was largely credited for Reed’s earliest recordings at Capitol Records, who showcased him as the new “teen-age-sensation” after recording his own rockabilly version of “When I Found You” in 1956.
Only 2 years later in 1958, Reed was officially recognized as a songwriter for both his country and rockabilly recordings and was resigned to a new company called the National Recording Corporation. Things really took off for Reed the next year in 1959, when he married Miss Priscilla Mitchell, who was a member of folk group The Appalachians, and also hit the Billboard “Bubbling Under the Top 100”, also known as the Roar and Cashbox Country chart, with the single “Soldier’s Joy”.
On April 2nd, 1960, the newly-wed couple welcomed their first child, Seidina Ann Hubbard. After a short stint serving in the United States Army, Reed relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1961, where he continued his songwriting career and picked up steam as a popular guitar player and singer. 1962 saw soaring success for Reed, who debuted 2 new singles called “Goodnight Irene” and “Hully Gully Guitar,” featuring an all-female vocal group known as the “Hully Girlies.” These singles in conjunction with Reed’s particularly intricate picking technique, helped score him a recording slot at RCA Victor after being recognized by the highly-respected Chet Atkin, who later produced Reed’s 1965 song “If I Don’t Live Up to It.”
In July of 1967, Jerry’s self-penned song, “Guitar Man,” climbed clear to #53 on the country charts – becoming Reed’s best-received single. In fact, the song was soon covered by the iconic Elvis Presley shortly after, who Reed paid tribute to in his next single and first Top 20 hit, “Tupelo Mississippi Flash.” Ironically, after recording the new song in Nashville on September 1st, Presley came down to Nashville on September 10th to record and hired Reed to write and play guitar for a few of his famous songs including “U.S. Male” and “Big Boss Man.” The next year in 1968, Reed started recording a second session with Presley, during which he played guitar on a couple covers for Elvis’ film, “Stay Away, Joe.” Reed also helped Presley record 2 of his own original compositions, including “Talk About the Good Times” and “A Thing Called Love,” which was later also re-released by Johnny Cash – reaching #2 on the Billboard country charts.
The 70s saw a substantial shift for Reed – who after releasing the huge hit “Amos Moses,” in early 1970, also introduced another daughter into the world, Charlotte Elaine “Lottie” Hubbard, towards the end of that same year on October 19th. After “Amos Moses” arrived at #8 on the U.S. pop charts, Reed teamed up again with Chet Atkins who together debuted the duet LP “Me & Jerry” which earned the pair the Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance. The 1970s also brought big opportunities in television for Reed, who became a regular on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. 1971 also saw his biggest hit yet, the chart-topping, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” which also served as the title track to Reed’s first ever solo album, earned Reed Grammy Award recognition for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, and sold over 1 million copies.
After the debut of their first duet, Atkins and Reed came up with another collaboration in 1972 called “Me & Chet,” which was followed up only 1 year later with Reed’s 2nd #1 single, “Lord, Mr. Ford,” written by Dick Feller. Going back to television, Reed also appeared in animated form in a 1972 episode of Scooby-Doo entitled “The Phantom of Country Music Hall,” where he performed the song, “Pretty Mary Sunlight,” played throughout the entirety of the episode as the gang searches for Reed’s missing guitar.
In the mid-1970s, Reed’s recording career began to take a back seat to his acting aspirations, and in 1974, Reed co-starred with close friend, Burt Reynolds, in the debut film “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings.” Despite continuing to record throughout the decade, Reed’s best bet for visibility was as a movie star – almost always in tandem with the renowned actor, Burt Reynolds. After the 1976 film, “Gator,” Reed also appeared in the 1978 flick, “High Ballin’,” as well as the 1979 movie “Hot Stuff.”
Perhaps most notably, Reed co-starred with Reynolds yet again, playing the part of Cletus “The Snowman” Snow in all 3 Smokey and the Bandit films starting off in 1977. The launch of the original Smokey movie subsequently landed Reed another #2 spot with the hit soundtrack, “East Bound and Down.” Also in 1977, Reed joined entrepreneur Larry Schmittou as well as other country music stars like Conway Twitty, as investors in a new minor league baseball team called the Nashville Sounds.
2 years later in 1979, Reed released a record comprising of both vocal and instrumental selections, appropriately entitled, “Half & Half.” This record was followed by the “Jerry Reed Sings Jim Croce” tribute tracks in 1980; the same year that Reed would also appear in the TV movie, “Concrete Cowboys.” In 1982, Reed’s recording career was revitalized with the chart-topping #1 hit-single, “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft),” followed by “The Bird,” which peaked at #2. Reed had his last chart hit “I’m a Slave” in 1983 – the same year he co-starred with Robin Williams in the Michael Ritchie comedy, “The Survivors.”
After accepting the invite to open up for Dexy’s Midnight Runners on their U.S. tour in 1984, Reed left the tour early to appear on the country music comedy TV show “Hee-Haw.” The unsuccessful launch of the 1986 LP “Lookin’ at You,” left Reed to focus fully on touring until around 1992 – when he and Chet Atkins reunited yet again for the album “Sneakin’ Around.” Subsequent to the recording of “Sneakin’ Around,” Reed returned back to the road, while also taking the time to appear in quite a few commercials and interviews.
In 1988, Reed landed a role in “Bat*21,” with Gene Hackman, serving not only as the movie’s character Colonel George Walker, but also acting as the film’s executive producer and screenwriter. Following his first time playing the producer role, Reed relaxed for a bit playing small roles here and there before coming back with another banger 10 years later in 1998, with the Adam Sandler film, “The Waterboy.” After starring as crazy Coach Red Beaulieu earlier that same year, Reed teamed up with Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis and Bobby Bare to create the country super group called the “Old Dogs.” Together this team recorded one self-entitled album, that featured some songs written by famous “The Giving Tree” author, Shel Silverstein.
Also in 1998, the punk rock band Primus, covered Reed’s song “Amos Moses” on their EP titled, “Rhinoplasty.” Primus wouldn’t be the first or the last to feature the iconic Jerry Reed song, “Amos Moses,” and in October of 2004, the classic country tune was included on the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas video game soundtrack. Skipping ahead to 2013 when the Grand Theft Auto V video game was released, Jerry’s song “You Took All the Ramblin’ Out of Me,” was also used in the game.
Sadly, on September 1st, 2008, Jerry Reed Hubbard passed away in Nashville, Tennessee, of complications from Emphysema at the age of 71. After his death, Reed was inducted into the Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum. Reed was also announced as an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame on April 5th, 2017 and was officially inducted by Bobby Bare on October 24th of that same year. Despite the devastation surrounding his death, Jerry’s movies, music and more remain with us to this day as reminders of the legend he left behind.
After all, Jerry said it best, “You can have music and it will stand alone by itself, but you can’t have a movie without music. Music is the most powerful things on this earth, and it’s hard to be angry when you are listening to music. I have spent over 60 years bent over a guitar and to know that I wrote 70 compositions that masters have recorded, that makes me feel so good and full, and proud and thankful to the good Lord.”
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