NPR logo Jerry Reed: 1937-2008

Jerry Reed: 1937-2008

I just learned that country singer-songwriter and actor Jerry Reed has died. He might not be a familiar name to a lot of younger NPR listeners, but Jerry Reed was one of my childhood heroes, mostly for his recurring role in the Smokey and the Bandit film trilogy. (Film trilogy. That makes it sound so highbrow...) Reed also did the theme song, "East Bound and Down."

Keep in mind that this was the 1970s and I was in elementary and middle school. I've scarcely thought of the movies since, but just a few days ago, I was driving out of town with a friend, we were running late, and I found myself singing, "We got a long way to go / and a short time to get there / We're gonna do what they say can't be done..." That song seems to pop into my head whenever I'm rushing somewhere.

But Jerry Reed was more than an actor in these cornball movies. Originally from Atlanta, Reed moved to Nashville in the early '60s to write songs and work as a session guitarist. His first country hit was "Guitar Man." He later recorded a version with Elvis Presley.

Reed had numerous other hits: "Amos Moses," "When You're Hot, You're Hot" and this one, "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)," a song that's really more of a country-rap:

Rest in peace, Jerry. And thanks for the memories.