September 2, 2008 / 10:11 PM / 11 years ago

"Guitar Man" Jerry Reed dies at age 71

Singer and actor Jerry Reed, best known as "The Guitar Man" of country music, is seen in this undated handout. Reed died at age 71 from complications from emphysema September 1, 2008, according to Country Music Television in Nashville. REUTERS/Courtesy Third Coast Talent/Handout

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer and actor Jerry Reed, known as “The Guitar Man” of country music, has died at the age of 71, ending a career that took him from writing hit songs like “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” to major acting roles in Hollywood.

Reed died on Monday from complications from emphysema. He had been cared for recently in a hospice, Country Music Television in Nashville reported.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Reed released more than 40 albums over a long career that started with his first record at the age of 18. He went on to become a Grammy award-winning musician as well as a popular session and tour guitarist who played with the likes of Joan Baez and Ringo Starr.

In the mid-1970s, Reed teamed up with friend and actor Burt Reynolds and appeared in the three “Smokey and the Bandit” movies as Reynolds’ truck-driving sidekick “The Snowman”. He also wrote the hit song “East Bound and Down” from the first movie.

Reed later played Coach Red Beaulieu in the 1998 movie “The Waterboy” with Adam Sandler.

Elvis Presley recorded two of Reed’s early songs — “U.S. Male” and “Guitar Man” and Reed played his distinctive “claw-style” licks on the studio recordings. Reed also played with country star Chet Atkins and was a regular on the “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” in 1970, as well as writing songs for Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee and many others.

Reed won two Grammys in the early 1970s and another in 1992 for the album “Sneakin’ Around.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Eric Walsh

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