Jerry Reed Introduces Burt Reynolds to Show by Playing ‘Dueling Banjos’ From His 1972 Film ‘Deliverance’

by Clayton Edwards

Jerry Reed was a guitarist, country singer, songwriter, and actor. Many people recognize him from his roles in several Burt Reynolds movies. At the same time, he had major hits with “Eastbound and Down,” and “Guitar Man,” in the sixties and seventies. He even hosted his own variety show in 1976. “The Jerry Reed Show” only ran for a couple of episodes. However, the episode with Burt Reynolds was pure television gold.

The segment of the show featuring Burt Reynolds is funny as well as touching. It showcases the chemistry that made him and Jerry Reed so great together when they shared the screen in films like “Smokey and the Bandit.” However, Reed introduces Reynolds with a reference to an older film. He picks up his guitar and plays the opening measure of “Dueling Banjos,” which is answered by a banjo player on stage.

He jokes that he isn’t introducing Burt Reynolds. Instead, he says, he is just going to hang out and pick “Dueling Banjos,” for awhile. About that time, Reynolds comes out of the backstage area to cheers from the crowd.

Jerry Reed and Reynolds go back and forth like old friends for a moment before breaking into song. The duo does probably the funniest version of “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” ever recorded. They then have a short conversation and introduce a reel of outtakes from the film “Gator” in which they star.

After the banter and jokes are done, Burt Reynolds shows the audience his serious side. He performs a song about not being able to adopt a child. It’s heartbreaking. At the same time, it shines a whole new light on the veteran actor.

Jerry Reed’s Film Debut

Jerry Reed’s first film was “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings,” which starred Burt Reynolds. In the film, Reynolds plays W.W. Bright, a robber who travels around knocking over gas stations owned by a corrupt corporation called Southern Oil Systems. When that company branches out into banking, W.W. decides he’ll start robbing those too.

He needs a little help with the robberies so he hijacks a car and a country music band called The Dixie Dancekings. Jerry Reed plays Wayne, a member of the band.

While working on this movie, Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed became fast friends. In fact, Reynolds liked working with the Guitar Man so much that he cast Reed in his directorial debut, the 1976 film “Gator.”

They would go on to work together in all three of the Smokey and the Bandit movies.