ELVIS & JERRY 'GUITAR MAN' REED
By Andrew Vaughan
It was on September 10, 1967 that Elvis Presley – waking from his mid-’60s slumber – went into the studio to cut
'Guitar Man' at RCA studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

The writer of the song, Jerry Reed, really was a guitar man – a celebrated picker-turned-actor who would later
shine alongside Burt Reynolds in the Smokey and the Bandit movies. In 1967 Reed was another country singer
in Nashville, enjoying modest success.

Initially, he’d been a songwriter with cuts by Gene Vincent (“Crazy Legs”) and then joined the famed Billy
Lowery publishing company in Atlanta where he was both a contracted songwriter and a session guitarist.

It was his homespun vocal style and incredibly nimble guitar playing that won him a record deal with Chet Atkins
who produced the 1965 country version of
'Guitar Man' complete with biting guitar work from Reed himself

In 1967, Elvis visited Nashville to record his new album and he and producer Felton Jarvis cut a version of
'Guitar Man' Unsatisfied with the results, Elvis, according to Mr. Reed, had Jarvis call him about the song.

Talking to the Tennessean newspaper, Reed said: “I was out on the Cumberland River fishing, and I got a call
from Felton Jarvis. He said, ‘Elvis is down here. We’ve been trying to cut
‘Guitar Man’ all day long. He wants it
to sound like it sounded on your album.’ I finally told him, ‘Well, if you want it to sound like that, you're going
have to get me in there to play guitar, because these guys you’re using in the studio are straight pickers. I pick
with my fingers and tune that guitar up all weird kind of ways.’’

Jarvis hired Reed to play on the session. "I hit that intro and Elvis’ face lit up and here we went,” Reed said.
“Then after he got through that, he cut [my]
'U.S. Male' at the same session. I was toppin’ cotton, son.”

Appreciative of Elvis recording
'U.S. Male' Reed recorded an Elvis tribute, 'Tupelo Mississippi Flash', a song
that gave him his first Top 20 hit.

Elvis, the King of Rock n Roll died suddenly at home in Memphis on August 16, 1977 aged 42
After a long and fruitful career, Jerry Reed died in Nashville on September 1, 2008 aged 71
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