Congratulations to the new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. This year, three country music greats move into a very exclusive ‘club.’ Let’s hear it for Jerry Reed, Alan Jackson and Don Schlitz.
Jerry Reed (March 20, 1937 – September 01, 2006) achieved worldwide fame with unforgettable roles in movies such as “Gator,” “W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings” and the “Smokey and the Bandit” series. However, before appearing in movies, he had begun a long and distinguished career in country music since arriving in Nashville in the early 1960s. As a songwriter, Reed was getting cuts on some of Nashville’s hottest acts, including Porter Wagoner. But it was his unique guitar style that made him an in-demand session player and brought him to the attention of Chet Atkins with whom he would later cut a Grammy-winning album, ‘Jerry and Me.’ Reed is one of only five recipients of Atkins’ coveted ‘Certified Guitar Player’ status, bestowed by Atkins only upon those that he believes have mastered the instrument.
Reed wrote and recorded “Guitar Man,” a song that charted for him in 1967. Elvis Presley loved the song and decided to cut his own version of it, insisting that Reed come into the RCA Studio to recreate his guitar sound. Presley went on to record several other Reed compositions, including “U.S. Male,” often with Reed playing guitar on the recordings.
Reed’s infectious sense of humor came across in his stage shows and on his records, including “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “Amos Moses” and “East Bound and Down,” the latter having been featured on the soundtrack of the first “Bandit” movie.
Alan Jackson (born October 17, 1958) is a well-deserved member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, in addition to enjoying an illustrious recording career. So far, he has chalked up twenty-six Billboard Number One Country songs and sold more than sixty million albums. Of the fifteen albums that topped Billboard’s Country Albums chart, nine have been certified ‘multi platinum’ by RIAA.
Jackson’s traditional country style has remained popular over the decades, winning him sixteen CMA Awards, seventeen ACM Awards and numerous other awards. He has received two Grammy Awards, including one for “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.”
When he was 27, Jackson and his wife Denise moved to Music City where he found work in the mailroom at The Nashville Network. His talent was quickly spotted (with a little help from Glen Campbell), and Jackson became the first artist signed to the Arista Nashville label. (On a personal note, at that time I was an intern at BNA Records, just down the hall. Arista, BNA and BMG Publishing were all on the same floor.)
His many hits include “Here in the Real World,” “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Remember When,” “It Must Be Love” and many more. Alan Jackson continues to ‘Keep it Country.’
Don Schlitz (born August 29, 1962) is one of Nashville’s most prolific and successful songwriters. His first hit as a songwriter is a song that went on to become instantly recognizable from the first few notes: “The Gambler,” recorded by Kenny Rogers. Not only did that song win a Grammy, but it also became Kenny Rogers’ signature song and something of a ‘standard’ in country and pop genres.
Two of Schlitz’ other best-known compositions, both co-written with Paul Overstreet, are “Forever and Ever, Amen” recorded by Randy Travis, and Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All.”
His list of hit co-writes seems almost endless with recordings by stars such as Alabama, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Ronnie Milsap and more, with titles that include “I Think About You” (Collin Raye), “Point of Light” and “On the Other Hand” (Randy Travis), “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” (Mary Chapin Carpenter), “Daddy’s Come Around” (Paul Overstreet)… The list goes on and on.
By Preshias Harris for Country Music News International
Photo (c) Country Music Hall of Fame