April 11

Story Behind “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” by Jerry Reed


Story Behind “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” by Jerry Reed 1

The story of this song begins on April 18, 1970. RCA Records placed an ad in Billboard Magazine in which Chet Atkins, vice president of the label’s country division, basically put his job on the line. Atkins called Jerry Reed and during that time, Reed had yet to crack the top ten.

“He’s One of the greatest undeveloped talents I have ever known. If Jerry doesn’t make it big in the near future. I will probably quit my job, because if that is true, I do not know talent.”

Chet Atkins probably had a sense of what was about to happen. By the end of the year, Reed was one of the hottest-selling acts in the business.

The Record that Place Jerry Reed at the Summit

The record that turned things around was “Amos Moses.” The song debuted on October 24, 1970. Prior to that, Jerry Reed’s highest chart position as a performer had been his No. 11 peak with “Are You From Dixie (Cause I’m From Dixie Too).” Actually, “Amos Moses” topped out at only No. 16 on Billboard’s country playlist. However, it fared much better on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, peaking at No. 8 on February 27, 1971. The single was also certified for sales of one million copies.

The Follow Up

Jerry Reed’s succeeding song was even bigger. He was a regular on television’s “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” During the course of a show, he forgot one of his lines. Stuck, he simply ad-libbed “When you’re hot, you’re hot,” and the audience went crazy. Reed was quick to recognize that he was on to something. He wrote an entire song based on that line when he got home. He incorporated the phrase into a crap game. The song’s storyline concluded with an appearance in court. Between the sassy female background vocalists, Reed’s sloppy rap and the grinding guitar work, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” took on a bit of a party atmosphere.

“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” spent five weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart, and peaked at No. 9 on the pop listings, a tremendous showing for a country release. It also brought Jerry Reed a Grammy for “Best Country Vocal Performance by a Male,” and symbolically saved Chet Atkins’ job.

Do you also think that this was another wonderful story? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, don’t forget to share this story with your family and friends. God Bless Your Heart!


chet atkins, Jerry Reed

  • My Dad’s name was John Talley and he was a big guy, so everyone called him “Big John Talley”. He did like to play caps, he would win some big money occasionally and lose some money too. He usually broke even.

    I always wondered if my Dad had met Jerry Reed and left an impression on Mr Reed. Can’t ask him now, he passed away in 2007. Miss him still.

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