Jerry Reed, a singer who became a good ol' boy actor in car chase movies like "Smokey and the Bandit," has died of complications from emphysema at 71.

Jerry Reed, a singer who became a good ol' boy actor in car chase movies like "Smokey and the Bandit," has died of complications from emphysema at 71.

His longtime booking agent, Carrie Moore-Reed, no relation to the star, said Reed died early yesterday (Aug. 31).

As a singer in the 1970s and early 1980s, Reed had a string of hits that included "Amos Moses," "When You're Hot, You're Hot," "East Bound and Down" and "The Bird."

In the mid-1970s, he began acting in movies such as "Smokey and the Bandit" with Burt Reynolds, usually as a good ol' boy. But he was an ornery heavy in "Gator," directed by Reynolds, and a hateful coach in 1998's "The Waterboy," starring Adam Sandler.

Reed and Kris Kristofferson paved the way for Nashville music personalities to make inroads into films. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers followed their lead.

Born in Atlanta, Reed learned to play guitar at age 8 when his mother bought him a $2 guitar and showed him how to play a G-chord. He dropped out of high school to tour with Ernest Tubb and Faron Young. At 17, he signed his first recording contract, with Capitol Records.

He moved to Nashville in the mid-1960s where he caught the eye of Chet Atkins. Elvis Presley recorded two of his songs, "U.S. Male" and "Guitar Man" (both in 1968). He also wrote the hit "A Thing Called Love," which was recorded in 1972 by Johnny Cash, as well as songs for Brenda Lee, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and the Oak Ridge Boys.

He won a Grammy Award for "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1971. A year earlier, he shared a Grammy with Chet Atkins for their collaboration, "Me and Jerry." In 1992, Atkins and Reed won a Grammy for "Sneakin' Around."


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