Smokey and the Bandit is 45 years old. After a lackluster premiere run in May 1977 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the sleeper flick became one of the biggest films of the year as it opened in more and more theaters over the summer of ’77. In addition to starring Burt Reynolds (Bandit), Sally Field (Frog), and Jackie Gleason (Buford T. Justice), the film featured one of country music’s most complete artists: singer/songwriter/guitarist Jerry Reed.
Jerry starred as the Bandit’s sidekick, Cledus “Snowman” Snow, as the tandem trekked from Atlanta to Texarkana—and back—for 400 cases of Coors (not Coors Light). Yeah, that’s bootlegging back in ’77. But the Bandit had the Trans Am . . . and the Snowman blocking. Of course, Burt got the girl, and Jerry got the dog (Fred). But the Snowman had enough one-liners to steal every scene he was in: “I don’t think my dog bit you, mister. ’Cause Fred definitely don’t like grease!”
Jerry was a guitar virtuoso who scored a handful of hits in the 1970s, including “Amos Moses,” “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “Lord, Mr. Ford,” and more. He was a regular on Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour TV series in the early ’70s, which led to roles with pal Burt Reynolds in films such as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Gator, and three Smokey and the Bandit movies.
While Jerry died in 2008, he finally received country music’s biggest honor when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017.
Let’s take a look—and listen—to four of Jerry’s signature songs from Smokey and the Bandit.
1. ‘The Legend’
The music for the flick was provided by Bill Justis and Jerry Reed. Justis composed and arranged much of the film’s original music. But Jerry Reed was the man whose pen and voice provided the Bandit with enough power for the 28-hour trip.
Jerry kicked off the movie’s soundtrack with “The Legend,” a tune he penned about the Bandit’s previous exploits. Get ya some Bandit backstory here.
Every gear jammer knows his name / They swear he got icewater runnin’ in his veins / A foot like lead and nerves like steel / He’s goin’ up to glory ridin’ 18 wheels.
2. ‘West Bound And Down’
Of course, the Bandit and the Snowman originally leave Atlanta for Texarkana. They arrive an hour ahead of schedule thanks to Jerry’s “West Bound and Down,” which he co-penned with Dick Feller.
Getting to Texarkana was never in doubt. In fact, the movie is 96-minutes long, and the boys get to Texarkana in about 20 minutes.
Keep your foot hard on the pedal / Son, never mind them brakes / Let it all hang out ’cause we got a run to make.
3. ‘The Bandit’
Penned by Dick Feller, “The Bandit” slowed the flick down mid-trip so Burt and Sally could get acquainted.
While the movie showcased the musical humor and on‑screen antics of Jerry Reed, he proved no antics were necessary when he belted “The Bandit.” Jerry was such a stud on guitar that he doesn’t always get enough credit as a vocalist.
You’re a legend to the old man / A hero to the child / Bandit steal a lady’s heart / With only a smile.
4. ‘East Bound And Down’
Jerry released “East Bound and Down” as a single in 1977. The tune, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, became one of Jerry’s signature hits.
Like “West Bound and Down,” “East Bound and Down” was penned by Jerry and Dick Feller and featured banjo guru Bobby Thompson.
East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’ / A-we gonna do what they say can’t be done / We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there / I’m east bound, just watch ol’ Bandit run.