Country music has been an integral part of American culture for generations, but few artists have made the same level of impact as Jerry Reed. His innovative use of the electric guitar added a new layer of complexity and excitement to the genre, paving the way for a new era of country music. In this article, we’ll delve deep into Reed’s background, guitar technique and style, and explore the unique innovations he brought to the world of country music. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just discovering Jerry Reed for the first time, prepare to be amazed by his incredible talent and revolutionary contributions to the music industry.
Jerry Reed’s Background
Jerry Reed’s musical career and innovations in country music make him one of the most influential musicians of his time. From his early years as a child prodigy to his collaboration with some of the biggest names in country music, Reed has left an indelible impression on the genre. His unique fingerstyle guitar technique, which was heavily influenced by Chet Atkins, was combined with the use of effects pedals to produce a sound that was entirely his own. In this section, we will explore his journey to Nashville and the events that shaped his musical career, leading to innovations that influenced the future of country music.
Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1940s, Jerry Reed was exposed to a variety of music genres, including country, blues, and jazz. He received his first guitar at age 8 and quickly developed a passion for playing. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing guitar at local shows and talent contests.
In the early 1950s, Reed began performing regularly on a local television program, “The Georgia Jubilee.” This exposure helped him gain a following in Georgia, and he soon began touring with other artists throughout the southeastern United States.
Despite his success, Reed faced a number of challenges in his early years. He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and struggled with drug addiction. However, he continued to pursue his passion for music and eventually found his way to Nashville, Tennessee, the heart of the country music industry.
|Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1940s, Jerry Reed was exposed to a variety of music genres, including country, blues, and jazz. He received his first guitar at age 8 and quickly developed a passion for playing.
|By the time he was a teenager, he was playing guitar at local shows and talent contests.
|In the early 1950s, Reed began performing regularly on a local television program, “The Georgia Jubilee.”
|Despite his success, Reed faced a number of challenges in his early years. He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and struggled with drug addiction.
|However, he continued to pursue his passion for music and eventually found his way to Nashville, Tennessee, the heart of the country music industry.
Reed’s early years set the stage for his future success as a country music artist. His exposure to various musical genres and his dedicated practice and performance as a young musician helped shape his unique sound and style. While he faced personal struggles along the way, he remained committed to his craft and ultimately became known as one of the most innovative and talented guitarists in the history of country music.
Journey to Nashville
The journey to Nashville was not an easy one for Jerry Reed. The future country guitar master was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1937. His parents, Cynthia and Otho Gibson Hubbard, were hardworking people who struggled to make ends meet. Reed learned to play the guitar at the age of eight and started performing in public a few years later. However, he had to work odd jobs to help his family, such as selling ice cream and repairing bicycles.
Reed’s talent and determination caught the attention of local musicians, and he soon became a sought-after session player. In the late 1950s, he played guitar for country singer Brenda Lee and rockabilly star Gene Vincent. Reed had his sights set on Nashville, though, the epicenter of country music. His chance came in 1960, when he impressed Chet Atkins, the most influential guitarist and producer in the genre, with his playing.
Atkins invited Reed to record with him at RCA Studios in Nashville, marking the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration. Reed also signed a contract with Capitol Records and released his debut album, “The Unbelievable Guitar and Voice of Jerry Reed,” in 1967. He became known for his virtuosic fingerstyle technique, which drew on classical and jazz influences as well as country.
Reed’s popularity grew throughout the 1970s, thanks to hits such as “Amos Moses” and “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” He also branched out into acting, appearing in several Burt Reynolds movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit.” Despite his success, Reed remained a humble and dedicated musician. He continued to innovate and experiment, collaborating with other performers and incorporating new techniques and technologies into his playing.
Reed’s journey to Nashville transformed him from a talented but struggling musician into a respected and influential figure in country music. He inspired countless guitarists with his inventive and dynamic style, and his legacy endures to this day. If you want to learn more about the contributions of other guitar masters to country music, check out our articles on Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Speedy West, Buddy Emmons, Don Rich, and the importance of Clarence White’s electric guitar innovations in bluegrass music.
Reed’s Guitar Technique and Style
When it comes to country music, Jerry Reed’s electric guitar playing was like a bolt from the blue. With his original techniques and styles, Reed captivated audiences all over the world. The way he played the guitar was a masterclass in fingerstyle guitar playing, and his influence was felt beyond country music. In this section, we’ll take a deep dive into Reed’s guitar playing technique and his unique style. So strum your guitar a few times and get ready to learn a thing or two from this guitar legend.
Jerry Reed’s guitar technique and style can be best described as innovative and unconventional. One of his most notable innovations was his use of fingerstyle playing.
Fingerstyle, also known as fingerpicking or thumbpicking, is a technique in which the guitarist plays the strings with their fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to their fingers, rather than using a traditional pick or plectrum. This allows for greater dexterity and control over the individual strings and produces a warm and intricate sound.
Reed’s fingerstyle playing was characterized by his fast and fluid finger movements across the fretboard, using both hands to create complex rhythms and melodies. He often incorporated percussive elements, such as slapping and tapping the strings with his fingers, to add depth and texture to his playing.
Reed’s fingerstyle playing style was heavily influenced by his Chet Atkins, who was his mentor and friend. Atkins, also a fingerstyle guitarist, was known for his use of a thumbpick, which he used to play bass and rhythm lines while simultaneously picking out lead melodies with his fingers. Reed took this concept and developed his own unique approach, using his thumb and fingers to create a more intricate and virtuosic sound.
Reed’s fingerstyle playing technique can be seen in many of his hits, such as “Guitar Man” and “The Claw”. He continued to push the boundaries of fingerstyle playing throughout his career, introducing new techniques and arrangements that captivated audiences and inspired other guitarists.
Jerry Reed’s fingerstyle playing was a major innovation in country music, and his influence can be heard in the playing of many modern country guitarists. Through his unconventional use of fingerpicking and incorporation of percussive elements, Reed created a sound that was uniquely his own and helped define the genre of country guitar.
|Characteristics of Reed’s Fingerstyle Playing:
|Fast and fluid finger movements
|Use of percussive elements, such as slapping and tapping the strings
|Incorporation of Chet Atkins’ thumbpicking technique
|Creation of intricate rhythms and melodies
Chet Atkins Influence
Jerry Reed’s unique playing style was largely influenced by the legendary Chet Atkins. Atkins was a prominent figure in the Nashville music scene and is often referred to as “Mr. Guitar.” Reed was first introduced to Atkins’ music as a child, and he was immediately captivated by his playing style.
Atkins’ Fingerstyle Technique
Atkins was a master of fingerstyle guitar playing, a technique in which the guitarist plucks the strings with their fingers instead of using a pick. This allowed for a more intricate and delicate playing style, which would go on to influence Reed’s own guitar style.
Atkins’ Use of Chords
In addition to his fingerstyle technique, Atkins was known for his use of chord progressions in his playing. He often used a unique blend of jazz and country chords, which added a new level of complexity to his music. This technique would prove to be influential to Reed, as he would go on to use similar chord progressions in his own music.
Reed’s Collaboration with Atkins
Reed was fortunate enough to collaborate with Atkins on several occasions throughout his career. Their most notable collaboration was on the 1970 album “Me and Chet.” The album showcased the two guitarists’ unique playing styles and featured classic country tracks such as “Tennessee Stud” and “Cannonball Rag.”
Reed’s Influence on Modern Country Music
Reed’s use of Atkins’ fingerstyle technique and chord progressions has had a lasting impact on modern country music. Many contemporary country guitarists still incorporate Reed’s innovations into their playing, and his legacy continues to live on today.
|Atkins’ Fingerstyle Technique
|Atkins was a master of fingerstyle guitar playing, a technique in which the guitarist plucks the strings with their fingers instead of using a pick. This allowed for a more intricate and delicate playing style, which would go on to influence Reed’s own guitar style.
|Atkins’ Use of Chords
|In addition to his fingerstyle technique, Atkins was known for his use of chord progressions in his playing. He often used a unique blend of jazz and country chords, which added a new level of complexity to his music. This technique would prove to be influential to Reed, as he would go on to use similar chord progressions in his own music.
|Reed’s Collaboration with Atkins
|Reed was fortunate enough to collaborate with Atkins on several occasions throughout his career. Their most notable collaboration was on the 1970 album “Me and Chet.” The album showcased the two guitarists’ unique playing styles and featured classic country tracks such as “Tennessee Stud” and “Cannonball Rag.”
|Reed’s Influence on Modern Country Music
|Reed’s use of Atkins’ fingerstyle technique and chord progressions has had a lasting impact on modern country music. Many contemporary country guitarists still incorporate Reed’s innovations into their playing, and his legacy continues to live on today.
Reed’s Innovations in Country Music
One of the most intriguing aspects of Jerry Reed’s career was his ability to push the boundaries of traditional country music. His innovative approach to the electric guitar brought a new energy and excitement to the genre, paving the way for modern country artists. Let’s delve into some of the groundbreaking techniques and tools that Reed used to revolutionize country music.
Jerry Reed’s contributions to country music are numerous, particularly in the realm of guitar playing. His unique style and technique have left a lasting impact on the genre. Some of the new techniques that he introduced into country music include:
- Slap Harmonics: Reed’s use of slap harmonics involves slapping the strings with the picking hand while simultaneously fretting with the other hand. This creates a unique, percussive sound that can be heard on many of Reed’s songs.
- Double Stops: Another technique that Reed popularized is the use of double stops, where he plays two notes at once by fretting two strings at the same time. This adds a fuller, richer sound to his playing and is particularly effective in slower, ballad-style songs.
- Tapping: Reed was also known to use a tapping technique, where he would tap on the fretboard with his picking hand to create a short, staccato sound. This can be heard on his instrumental piece “The Claw,” which has become a staple of his repertoire.
- Bending: In addition to these more unconventional techniques, Reed also made use of traditional bending techniques, whereby he would bend notes to create a higher pitch. However, he added his own twist to this technique by utilizing double stops and harmonics in conjunction with the bending to create a more complex sound.
These techniques have all become standard fare for guitarists in the country music genre, but they were virtually unknown before Reed brought them to the fore. By incorporating them into his own playing style, he was able to carve out a unique niche for himself in the competitive world of country music.
Use of Effects Pedals
Jerry Reed’s innovative use of effects pedal was another significant contribution to the evolution of country music. He was one of the first country guitarists to use pedals such as delay, reverb, and distortion to achieve a more dynamic and expressive sound. Reed was a master of blending different effects to create unique tonal textures that became the hallmark of his signature sound.
Delay Pedals: Reed was a true pioneer in the use of delay pedals. He utilized this effect to create complex and layered guitar parts, giving his music a fuller and more spacious sound. The delayed notes would repeat after a certain amount of time, giving the illusion of multiple guitar lines playing simultaneously. This technique was showcased in Reed’s hit song “The Claw,” and it became a staple in his live performances.
Reverb Pedals: Reed also used reverb pedals to add a sense of depth and space to his guitar playing. This effect created a natural ambience that gave his guitar tones a more organic and lively feel. Reed’s use of reverb was particularly effective in slow ballads, such as “Georgia On My Mind” and “Overnight Sensation.”
Distortion Pedals: In addition to delay and reverb, Reed was also known for using distortion pedals to add a gritty edge to his guitar tone. He would often crank up the distortion to create a more aggressive and biting sound, which was especially effective in his rockier tunes. This technique can be heard in Reed’s classic instrumental “Guitar Man,” which features a heavily distorted guitar riff.
Reed’s pioneering use of effects pedals was a game-changer for country guitar playing. He broke new ground in terms of what was possible with the instrument, and his influence is still felt today among modern country guitarists. His innovative approach to effects pedals helped to expand the sound of country music, making it more dynamic, and diverse.
Collaborations and Legacy
As Jerry Reed’s career in country music continued to flourish, he crossed paths with a number of other notable musicians and artists, leading to a plethora of innovative collaborations. These musical partnerships demonstrated the depth and versatility of Jerry Reed’s guitar playing, as well as his willingness to push the boundaries of the genre. In this section, we’ll explore some of the most dynamic collaborations and the lasting legacy that Reed left on the country music world. From his unexpected duets to his innovative use of effects pedals, Jerry Reed’s contributions continue to influence modern musicians and keep his legacy alive.
Collaborations with Other Artists
Throughout his career, Jerry Reed collaborated with many talented artists and musicians, cementing his place as one of the most influential figures in the history of country music.
1. Elvis Presley
Jerry Reed’s first major collaboration was with the legendary Elvis Presley. He played guitar on Presley’s 1967 hit “Guitar Man”, which became one of the most iconic songs of its decade. This collaboration propelled Reed onto the national stage and helped establish him as one of country music’s most promising guitarists.
2. Chet Atkins
It’s no secret that Jerry Reed was heavily influenced by Chet Atkins, an iconic guitarist and producer in his own right. The two musicians became close friends and often worked together. In fact, Reed’s big break came when Atkins signed him to his own record label. Together, they recorded several classic albums, including “Me and Jerry” and “Me and Chet”.
3. Dolly Parton
Reed was a frequent collaborator with Dolly Parton, playing guitar on many of her biggest hits. He also co-wrote “Love Is Like a Butterfly”, one of Parton’s most beloved songs. The two became close friends and toured together for many years.
4. Elvis Costello
In the 1980s, Reed began working with artists outside the country music genre. He collaborated with Elvis Costello on the song “Pump It Up” and appeared in the accompanying music video. This unexpected pairing showcased Reed’s versatility as a musician and proved that his innovative style could transcend genres.
5. Brad Paisley
Reed’s influence on modern country music can be seen in the work of artists like Brad Paisley, who has cited Reed as one of his biggest inspirations. Paisley worked on a tribute album to Reed following his death in 2008, which featured performances by Paisley and other country stars.
6. Mark Knopfler
Jerry Reed’s guitar playing impressed many musicians outside the country genre, including Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. The two guitarists played together on several occasions and shared a mutual respect for each other’s unique playing styles.
Jerry Reed’s collaborations with other artists helped to shape the sound of country music and influenced generations of musicians. From Elvis Presley to Brad Paisley, Reed’s impact can still be felt today in the work of countless artists.
Influence on Modern Country Music
Jerry Reed’s innovative guitar techniques and style have left a lasting impact on modern country music. Here are some of the ways in which Reed’s influence can be seen in the genre today:
- Use of Fingerstyle Guitar: Reed was widely known for his fingerstyle guitar playing, which is now a hallmark of country music. Many modern country artists, such as Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, and Lindsey Ell, have incorporated fingerstyle guitar techniques into their music.
- Use of Effects Pedals: Reed was one of the first country guitarists to experiment with effects pedals, using them to create unique sounds and textures. Today, effects pedals are commonly used by country artists in both live performances and recordings.
- Collaboration with Other Genres: Reed was not afraid to mix country with other genres, such as rock and roll and jazz. This experimentation can be heard in the music of modern country artists who blend various styles to create their own unique sound.
- Fingerpicking Patterns: Reed’s fingerpicking patterns, particularly his use of the alternating bass technique, have been adopted by many modern country guitarists. Artists such as Tommy Emmanuel and Joe Bonamassa have spoken of Reed’s influence on their playing.
Jerry Reed’s contributions to country music have paved the way for new sounds and techniques in the genre. His legacy can be heard in the music of countless modern country artists, and his impact will continue to be felt for years to come.
After examining Jerry Reed’s life and music, it is clear that he was a trailblazer in the world of country music. His use of the electric guitar and innovative playing techniques helped to redefine the genre and influenced countless artists that came after him.
From his early years in Georgia to his journey to Nashville, Reed showed an unwavering dedication to his craft and a willingness to try new things. His fingerstyle technique, influenced by his idol Chet Atkins, was truly groundbreaking and set him apart from other country guitarists of his time.
Reed’s innovations in country music, such as the use of effects pedals and his development of new playing techniques, helped to broaden the genre’s appeal and bring it to a wider audience. To this day, his music continues to inspire and influence artists across multiple genres.
Reed’s collaborations with other artists, such as his work with Elvis Presley on the song “Guitar Man,” further cemented his place in music history. His legacy lives on, both through his own recordings and the work of those he influenced.
In conclusion, Jerry Reed was a true pioneer of country music. His contributions helped to expand the genre’s boundaries and make it more accessible to a wider audience. His legacy remains strong today, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless artists who have followed in his footsteps.
Frequently Asked Questions
What was Jerry Reed’s greatest hit?
Jerry Reed’s biggest hit was “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” which reached #1 on the country and pop charts in 1971.
Did Jerry Reed write songs for other artists?
Yes, Jerry Reed wrote many songs for other artists, including “East Bound and Down” for the movie “Smokey and the Bandit,” which was performed by his friend and frequent collaborator, Burt Reynolds.
What awards did Jerry Reed win during his career?
Jerry Reed won two Grammy Awards, one for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 1971 and another for Best Country Vocal Collaboration in 1993.
How did Jerry Reed’s guitar style influence other musicians?
Jerry Reed’s innovative fingerstyle technique and use of effects pedals inspired many other musicians, including country guitarists like Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, as well as rock guitarists like Tommy Emmanuel and Mark Knopfler.
What was Jerry Reed’s relationship with Chet Atkins?
Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins were close friends and frequent collaborators. Atkins mentored Reed and helped him develop his fingerstyle guitar technique, and the two played together on many albums and tours throughout the years.
What is Jerry Reed’s legacy in country music?
Jerry Reed is remembered as one of the most innovative and influential guitarists in the history of country music. His fingerstyle technique, use of effects pedals, and collaborations with other artists helped to shape the genre and inspire future generations of musicians.
What kind of guitar did Jerry Reed play?
Jerry Reed played a custom-made Mosrite guitar, which was designed specifically to accommodate his unique fingerstyle technique.
Where can I buy Jerry Reed’s music?
Jerry Reed’s music is available for purchase on a variety of online platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play.
Did Jerry Reed act in any movies or TV shows?
Yes, Jerry Reed appeared in several movies and TV shows over the course of his career, including “The Waterboy,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “The Jerry Reed Show.”
What is Jerry Reed’s signature song?
Many people consider “Guitar Man” to be Jerry Reed’s signature song, as it showcases his unique guitar style and features his distinctive vocals.