Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 14:43 UK

Country's 'Guitar Man' Reed dies

Jerry Reed
Reed is best-known in the UK for appearing in Smokey and the Bandit

Singer-turned-actor Jerry Reed, known as "The Guitar Man" of country music, has died aged 71.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Reed released more than 40 albums over a long career that started when he was just 18.

After scoring US hits like Amos Moses and When You're Hot, he broke into cinema in the 1970s, appearing in all three Smokey and the Bandit movies.

The star, who had quadruple bypass surgery in 1999, died on Monday of complications arising from emphysema.

He had recently been cared for in a hospice, Country Music Television in Nashville reported.

Sony BMG Nashville Chairman Joe Galante called Reed a larger-than-life personality.

"Everything about Jerry was distinctive - his guitar playing, writing, voice and especially his sense of humour," Galante said.

"I was honoured to have worked with him."

Reed's booking agent, Carrie Moore-Reed (not a relation), called the singer-songwriter "one of the greatest entertainers in the world".

Trans Am

In the US, Reed had a string of hits that ran from 1967 to 1983, and won a Grammy for his 1971 single When You're Hot, You're Hot.

Two further Grammys came for his collaborations with Chet Atkins - and the guitarist went on to play and tour with the likes of Joan Baez and Ringo Starr.

Jerry Reed and Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynolds presents his friend with a surprise guitar-shaped cake in 1980
Although he never had a hit in the UK, Reed's music will be familiar to many through soundtrack songs like Texas Bound and Flyin', which appeared on Smokey and the Bandit II.

Elvis also covered Reed's Guitar Man during his iconic 1968 Comeback Special, and the star played in his trademark "claw-lick" style on the studio recording.

In the mid-1970s, the singer teamed up with friend and actor Burt Reynolds, appearing in The Snowman, as well as his the Bandit series, where he played truck driver Cledus Snow.

Reynolds later gave him a shiny black 1980 Trans Am like the one they used in the films.

Modern audiences will also know him as the angry coach in Adam Sandler's comedy The Waterboy - but his main passion was music, and he continued touring into the 1990s.

Singer-guitarist Brad Paisley said Reed was one of country music's most influential players.

"Anyone who picks a country guitar knows of his mastery of the instrument - one of the most inspirational stylists in the history of country music, a complete master," Paisley said.

"I'm in debt to him for paving the way for myself and the other guitarists of today."

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