Was very bummed to hear of the passing of Country singer/guitarist/actor Jerry Reed today at the age of 71 of complications from emphysema. Before I really got into the music of Johnny Cash over the last year or so, Reed was easily my favorite Country singer/musician, and I practically wore out my older brother's Best Of Jerry Reed 8-track when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I got to meet the man himself and get his autograph following a concert in 1983, and he seemed like a pretty cool dude.
His full name was Jerry Reed Hubbard, and he of course went on to have a respectable career in the movies, most notably as Cledus "Snowman" Snow (no he's not Hank Snow's brother) in the Smokey & The Bandit trilogy (we'll forgive Jerry for doing that S&TB III debacle) and as the evil foosball coach in Adam Sandler's The Waterboy. Whenever I watch the latter, I'm reminded of a former co-worker, Bruce, who just loved both Smokey and Waterboy, and the day Bruce—a black man—came up to me and said, "Man, I never knew Jerry Reed was a singer!" Dude, who did you think sang "Eastbound and Down"?
Reed's musical forte was humor, which almost always resonates with me, regardless of the musical genre, but it didn't hurt that he had such huge crossover success with "Amos Moses" and "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1971 when I was heavily into AM Top 40 radio on WHB. His non-crossover stuff was pretty funny stuff too, like "Lord Mr. Ford", "U.S. Male", "Preacher And The Bear" and my personal favorite, "Tupelo Mississippi Flash", a hilarious psuedo-tribute to Elvis. It's easy to forget that JR was a mighty fine musician, too. Check out "The Claw" (later covered by my man Dave Edmunds), and it's obvious da boy knew his way around the ol' fretboard. Reed also served as a session musician in the '60s, playing on Tommy Roe's 1963 smash hit "Sheila", as well as Elvis' cover versions of Reed's own "U.S. Male" and "Guitar Man" in the late '60s. Reed's ballad "A Thing Called Love" (not to be confused with John Hiatt's "Thing Called Love") was also a hit for The Man In Black, and his own version wasn't too shabby, either.
So long, Snowman, we'll catch you on the flip-flop at that Big Choke 'n' Puke in the sky...