Listen to this track – Elvis singing the Jerry Reed-penned country hit ‘Guitar Man’, a hit for Reed and a great cover for Elvis who performed it for the legendary ’68 Comeback special. This is, of course, in honour of the very underrated Jerry Reed who was one hell of a picker and who recently passed away at the age of 71.
Jerry Reed’s version was a top 20 country hit in 1967, featuring his specialized picking technique on a nylon-stringed guitar – his trademark. Elvis recorded the song soon after, although he was unhappy initially with the way the takes were sounding. Elvis’ producer Felton Jarvis called Reed in a bid to find out how best to get the Reed sound on the record. Jerry Reed answered simply, and logically, that the best way to get the Jerry Reed sound was to get Jerry Reed to play on the track. So, that’s what happened.
You can read the full story here, along with more information about this gifted musician.
Reed was of course a singularly talented guitarist, admired by his peers which included the celebrated country music innovator and picker in his own right, Chet Atkins, with whom Reed often performed.
In addition to being a musician, he was an actor too. His most memorable and beloved role may well be that of “The Snowman” in the Smokey & The Bandit films. I remember seeing him on TV variety shows in the 70s (a long lost television genre which is bound to reappear…), not to mention kids shows like Scooby-Doo, where we got to see an animated Jerry Reed.
In addition to all of this, he was purportedly a man who enjoyed a laugh, simple pleasures, and who was endowed with a sense of perspective to offset his considerable talents that kept both of his feet in the Georgia mud.
For more music, check out this footage of Jerry Reed showing off his picking prowess with Chet Atkins.