Jerry Reed, singer-turned-actor, dies
Acting career took off with 'Smokey and the Bandit'NASHVILLE -- Jerry Reed, a singer who became a good ol' boy actor in car chase movies like "Smokey and the Bandit," has died of complications from emphysema at 71.
His longtime booking agent, Carrie Moore-Reed, no relation to the star, said Reed died early Monday.
"He's one of the greatest entertainers in the world. That's the way I feel about him," Moore-Reed said.
Reed was a gifted guitarist who later became a songwriter, singer and actor.
As a singer in the 1970s and early 1980s, he had a string of hits that included "Amos Moses," "When You're Hot, You're Hot," "East Bound and Down" and "The Bird."
In the mid-1970s, he began acting in movies such as "Smokey and the Bandit" with Burt Reynolds, usually as a good ol' boy. But he was an ornery heavy in "Gator," directed by Reynolds, and a hateful coach in 1998's "The Waterboy," starring Adam Sandler.
Reynolds gave him a shiny black 1980 Trans Am like the one they used in "Smokey and the Bandit."
Reed and Kris Kristofferson paved the way for Nashville music personalities to make inroads into films. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers (TV movies) followed their lead.
"I went around the corner to motion pictures," he said in a 1992 interview.
Reed had quadruple bypass surgery in June 1999.
Born in Atlanta, Reed learned to play guitar at age 8 when his mother bought him a $2 guitar and showed him how to play a G-chord.
He dropped out of high school to tour with Ernest Tubb and Faron Young.
At 17, he signed his first recording contract, with Capitol Records.
He moved to Nashville in the mid-1960s where he caught the eye of Chet Atkins.
He first established himself as a songwriter. Elvis Presley recorded two of his songs, "U.S. Male" and "Guitar Man" (both in 1968). He also wrote the hit "A Thing Called Love," which was recorded in 1972 by Johnny Cash. He also wrote songs for Brenda Lee, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and the Oak Ridge Boys.
Reed was voted instrumentalist of the year in 1970 by the Country Music Assn.
He won a Grammy Award for "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1971. A year earlier, he shared a Grammy with Chet Atkins for their collaboration, "Me and Jerry." In 1992, Atkins and Reed won a Grammy for "Sneakin' Around."
Reed continued performing on the road into the late 1990s, doing about 80 shows a year.
"I'm proud of the songs, I'm proud of things that I did with Chet (Atkins), I'm proud that I played guitar and was accepted by musicians and guitar players," he said in 1992.
In a 1998 interview with The Tennessean, he admitted that his acting ability was questionable. "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."