Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jerry Reed!

Here's a guy I've been wanting to blog about for a long time. Jerry Reed was one of my favourite music personalities back in the 1970s through the mid 1980s. I had turned away from the pop music stations at that time, as they were becoming way too rock oriented for my liking. Instead I turned my attention to the world of country music and found all sorts of performers that I enjoyed much better. (That was back when country was still country, before it too succumbed to the pop/rock virus that took over as "New Country". Blecch!)

I liked the rhinestone encrusted leisure suits and big sideburns that all the guys sported during that era, and the big hairdos and sequins on all the gals. My favourite entertainers on the Nashville scene were the crazy rascals like Ray Stevens, Roy Clark, and especially Roger Miller and this good ol' boy from Atlanta, Georgia... Jerry Reed. I think I really took to him in a big way when he co-starred alongside Burt Reynolds in 1977's Smokey and the Bandit, still one of my all-time guilty pleasures. Jerry played Bandit's trucker buddy, Cledus Snow, who went by the CB handle, "Snowman". He wrote and performed a number of songs for the movie's soundtrack, including the infectious, "Eastbound and Down", featuring Jerry's own special brand of manic guitar pickin'. You can see him playing a rousing version of the song in this video clip from the TV special, Nashville Salutes America. In fact, it was from this particular performance that I sketched the caricature pictured above.

I was lucky enough to get to meet him briefly after seeing him in concert back around 1980 or so, and got him to sign a caricature I'd done from watching him in a little known film called W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, his first big screen role, also with Burt Reynolds. Sadly, we lost Jerry Reed a couple of years ago at the age of 71 after he lost his battle with emphysema. It was actually quite a shock when I heard he'd died, as I hadn't seen him in years and didn't realize he was that old. He'd also filled out in his later years, and was no longer the lean and lanky wild man in his 40s that I recall so fondly. Anyway, here's another music clip to enjoy and remember the phenomenal talent that was Jerry Reed. All right, do it boys!!...


Tony DiStefano said...

One home run after another.Love that guitar!

SNeelyArt said...

That is ALL KINDS OF AWESOME! Jerry Rules! I have a lot of his CD's around here and he's my country favorite! Great actor who had super chemistry with Reynolds whenever they teamed up!