November 22

Elvis Presley’s Great Country Version of “Guitar Man”

When we talk about the name Elvis Presley, what pops into your mind? For me, it is a legendary country artist. Today, let us witness as he performed one of the country hits in the ’60s entitled “Guitar Man.”

Elvis Presley's Great Country Version of "Guitar Man" 1
via CTD

“Guitar Man”

It is a country hit ballad penned and popularized by Jerry Reed. Reed’s rendition was released in 1967 as a single from his album The Unbelievable Guitar and Voice of Jerry Reed.

guitar man, jerry reed
Via by Screengrab

After Reed’s version was released, Elvis Presley made another version of it. Elvis’ version became a minor country and pop hit. He took it to number 1 in the country chart and had some minor crossover success with number 43 on the pop chart. In fact, he even had better success with a posthumous release in 1981 that featured his original vocals backed with a new electrical arrangement.

elvis presley, guitar man
Via Amazon

When Elvis Presley started to record this track, he felt frustrated as he couldn’t do better than Jerry Reed did. Due to his frustration, Elvis sent a message to Reed. Reed shared,

“See, I had my own tuning, and they were trying to record ‘Guitar Man,’ and they couldn’t make it feel like my record,” Reed recalled. “And I forget if it was Pete Drake or Charlie McCoy or Chip Young – one of those musicians said, ‘Well, these guitar players in here are playing with straight picks, and, you know, Reed plays with his fingers.’

So they called me, and I went down, and I hooked up that electric gut string, tuned the B-string up a whole tone, and I toned the low E-string down a whole tone, so I could bar straight across, and as soon as we hit the intro, you could see Elvis’ eyes light up. He knew we had it.”

He continued: “It was just a jamming session. I thought I was going to be so damn nervous I couldn’t play, but it was right the opposite. I got pumped, and then Elvis got pumped, and the more he got pumped up, the more I did – it was like a snowball effect. To tell you the truth, I was on cloud nine. And once Elvis got the spirit, things really began to happen. When the guitars and the rhythm sounded right, I guess the guitar lick kind of reminded him of [Ray Charles’] ‘What’d I Say,’ and he just sort of started testifying at the end. That was how it happened – one of those rare moments in your life you never forget.”

Now, if I may ask you, have you ever felt frustrated over something?

Listen to Elvis Presley’s “Guitar Man” here:


Elvis Presley

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