Jerry Reed On Awards and Friendships (1997)

When Jerry Reed thinks of the CMA Awards, he recalls a kidnapped trophy and friendship strong enough to withstand a hammer’s blow.

Originally published in the Sep. 23, 1997 issue of Country Weekly featuring Vince Gill on the cover. This story is presented here in its entirety.

Jerry Reed treasures unbeatable memory. When Jerry Reed thinks of the CMA Awards, he recalls a kidnapped trophy and friendship strong enough to withstand a hammer’s blow.

Jerry was at the top of his game in the early ’70s, having graduated from Nashville session picker to recording star and budding actor. He and his one-time mentor, guitar legend Chet Atkins, had become fast friends and annual competitors for the CMA’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award. Chet won in 1967 – 69; Jerry accepted the bullet-shaped trophies in 1970 and 1971. “You’re definitely pumped,” he says about the moment his name was announced.

“When you win, you get pretty excited. It’s like a little horse race.” Jerry still laughs when he thinks about that second win. “After I won, Chet’s wife Leona got the award from my wife Pris, and they snuck it out of the building,” he says, chuckling. “Chet got a hammer and beat it. The award was made out of wood back then, and he took the hammer to it.”

Was Jerry sore? Nope.

“It’s one of my prized possessions,” he says now. “It looks just like a piece of wood that’s had a hammer beating it.” Jerry, an Atlanta native, earned a total of 16 CMA nominations between 1969 and 1978, thanks to catchy and fun tunes such as “Amos Moses” and “When You’re Hot You’re Hot.” He was a regular on Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour TV series in the early ’70s, which led to roles with his pal Burt Reynolds in films such as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings and three Smokey and the Bandit movies.

Today, Jerry lives in Nashville with his wife of 39 years, Priscilla, and loves to go fishing when he’s not on tour. At 60, his sense of humor is still as rich as ever, something that’s obvious in his latest project—an album in the making called Old Dogs. The album reunites four longtime friends—Jerry, Bobby Bare, Mel Tillis and Waylon Jennings—performing all-new Shel Silverstein songs, written specifically for this album, including “I Ain’t Too Old To Cut the Mustard, I’m Just too Tired To Spread It Around” and “I’m an Old Dog, But I Can Still Bury a Bone.”

It sounds rude and irreverent, and with any luck it will be exactly that. “It’s about life, and it’s going to hit everybody square between the eyes,” Jerry promises. “It’s tongue-in-cheek about aging and laughing at the human race.”

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