"Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed…" begins the theme song to the popular American sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, which ran from 1962 to 1971 on CBS. Composed by the show's creator, Paul Henning, the rags-to-riches country tune sets up the plot of the series: Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) is a poor mountaineer from Missouri who accidentally discovers oil on his land and becomes a millionaire. He moves his family to Beverly Hills, where they shake up the posh community with their hillbilly ways.
During the show's first season, the theme went to #44 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Country chart when it was released by bluegrass duo Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs (from their album Hard Travelin'). On the TV version, they provide instrumental backing to country singer Jerry Scoggins' vocal.
The single version, sung by Flatt, merges the lyrics from the show's opening and closing credits, with banjo sequences by Scruggs in between the verses.
Scruggs' wife Louise, who was also the band's longtime manager, initially rejected the theme song gig on their behalf. She recalled to NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross in 2003: "I turned it down at first because of the word Beverly Hillbillies. I didn't know what connotation that was going to take with country people and didn't want to offend them. So [Paul Henning] said, 'Well, the premise of this show is that the Beverly Hillbillies are going to always be outsmarting the city slickers.'"
After screening the pilot, Louise not only approved of the project, but also suggested the theme would make a great single.
Flatt and Scruggs appeared in seven episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies as old friends of the Clampetts who visit during their tour stops in California.
The Beverly Hillbillies was made into a movie in 1993, starring Jim Varney as Jed Clampett. In the absence of his partner Flatt, who died in 1979, Scruggs re-recorded the theme song with fellow banjo player Bela Fleck. Jerry Scoggins also emerged from retirement to record the vocals.
For his 1989 movie UHF
, "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a parody version that combined "The Ballad Of Jed Clampett" with "Money For Nothing
" by Dire Straits.
In 2019, the song was used in a FedEX commercial
. In the ad, a man named Ned discovers maple syrup in his trees and starts his own business with the help of the shipping company.
In 1979, Saturday Night Live did a spoof called "The Bel-Arabs," about a Middle Eastern family who strikes oil, relocates to Southern California and gets tangled up in a scheme with the FBI.