September 2, 2008

Breaker, Breaker; The Snowman is 10-7.

Jerry Reed, who played Burt Reynold's sidekick in the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies has died at age 71 of emphysema.

Reed had been a country music star before taking on film. He'd won a Grammy for "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1972 and had numerous hits, starting with "Guitar Man," which was later covered by Elvis Presley. Presley had problems getting the right sound, and Reed eventually came in and played for The King.

As Reed recounted:
"I hit that intro, and [Elvis's] face lit up and here we went. Then after he got through that, he cut [my] 'U.S. Male' at the same session. I was toppin' cotton, son."
He collaborated with Chet Atkins on two successful albums, Me & Jerry, and Me & Chet.

Reed appeared on numerous TV shows and several movies before making the classic buddy film. A favorite on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Alice, and even an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. He had his own show in 1978, the short-lived variety show, The Jerry Reed Show.

Jerry did several movies with close friend Burt Reynolds before The Bandit movies, including Gator and WW and the Dixie Dancekings.

Reed had originally been cast as the Bandit, when Hal Needham let Reynolds read the script. Burt liked what he saw, and his presence kicked it up from a "B" movie to a mainstream release. The addition of a few more stars guaranteed a wider release, and the film became a fan favorite.

Reed eventually did get to play The Bandit in a later sequel. He wrote and recorded the movie's theme song, East Bound and Down, which also made the charts.

Those of us of a certain age will always remember Reed best as Cletus "Snowman" Snow, the wisecracking trucker, and perennial friend of The Bandit.

The Snowman is 10-7 and on the side; all you good buddies put that hammer down and mind them smokies.

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