Recorded on the 10th & 11th of September or the 9th October (depending on which sources you believe) in RCA’s Studio B, Nashville, Elvis’s producer Felton Jarvis told him if he wanted the guitar sound he was describing he should call Jerry Reed. Jerry Reed was eventually tracked down on a fishing trip (!) and duly arrived at the studio looking like a hillbilly dressed up as one of the Waltons for Halloween. Reed then went on to play one of the most distinctive riffs in rock ‘n’ roll, allegedly making the riff up in one go. I’ve struggled for years to get it sounding anything remotely like it, and Jerry Reed plucked it out the air just like that.
“We’re rolling, Guitar Man Take 1” Felton calls out as an obviously flustered Reed runs through guitar licks to get up to speed. “Phew! I haven’t played all weekend!” he says/apologises to no-one in particular. Gradually he gets up to speed and knocks out the killer riff that we all know and love. By Take 12, Elvis is ad-libbing Ray Charles ‘What’d I Say?’ and the whole thing is in the can. Here is a zipped file with takes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10 with all the studio chatter, bum notes, false starts etc that you could ever want.
By the way, if anyone knows the proper way to play the tune, let me know! I play with a dropped D and riff about on the 2nd and 3rd strings at the 10th and 11th frets. But I play like a numpty so what do I know?
Woolworths advert from the 1960s