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Obit: Farewell, Chet Atkins.... (1924-June 2001)

DigiTrad:
FROG KISSING


Related threads:
Chet Atkins teaching Ruth Buzzi guitar (9)
Lyr/Tune/Chords Req: Frog Kissin' (Chet Atkins) (10)
Lyr Req: Frog Kissin' (Chet Atkins) (10)


Paul G. 30 Jun 01 - 05:27 PM
Sorcha 30 Jun 01 - 05:34 PM
katlaughing 30 Jun 01 - 05:39 PM
Murray MacLeod 30 Jun 01 - 05:44 PM
Mark Clark 30 Jun 01 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,Rob Dale 30 Jun 01 - 06:11 PM
Chip2447 30 Jun 01 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Dancing Mom 30 Jun 01 - 06:16 PM
Banjer 30 Jun 01 - 06:17 PM
GUEST,Mike Billo 30 Jun 01 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,rambam99 30 Jun 01 - 06:43 PM
SINSULL 30 Jun 01 - 06:49 PM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 30 Jun 01 - 06:49 PM
Jeep man 30 Jun 01 - 07:03 PM
Little Hawk 30 Jun 01 - 07:16 PM
Justa Picker 30 Jun 01 - 07:35 PM
Cobble 30 Jun 01 - 07:50 PM
Clinton Hammond 30 Jun 01 - 08:25 PM
Sorcha 30 Jun 01 - 08:27 PM
Big Mick 30 Jun 01 - 08:28 PM
Don Firth 30 Jun 01 - 09:44 PM
GUEST,khandu 30 Jun 01 - 10:01 PM
Bert 30 Jun 01 - 10:50 PM
Ebbie 30 Jun 01 - 11:02 PM
kendall 01 Jul 01 - 12:18 AM
catspaw49 01 Jul 01 - 12:18 AM
rangeroger 01 Jul 01 - 12:28 AM
Marion 01 Jul 01 - 01:33 AM
Marion 01 Jul 01 - 01:39 AM
Proudson 01 Jul 01 - 01:46 AM
texastoolman 01 Jul 01 - 02:26 AM
Amergin 01 Jul 01 - 03:28 AM
Quincy 01 Jul 01 - 05:14 AM
paddymac 01 Jul 01 - 07:29 AM
Fiolar 01 Jul 01 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,Whistleworks 01 Jul 01 - 09:18 AM
Alice 01 Jul 01 - 09:45 AM
RangerSteve 01 Jul 01 - 10:14 AM
Rick Fielding 01 Jul 01 - 01:05 PM
JedMarum 01 Jul 01 - 01:34 PM
grumpy al 01 Jul 01 - 02:12 PM
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Murray MacLeod 01 Jul 01 - 02:53 PM
rangeroger 01 Jul 01 - 03:02 PM
marty D 01 Jul 01 - 03:31 PM
beachcomber 01 Jul 01 - 03:48 PM
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Subject: OBIT: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Paul G.
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 05:27 PM

More sad news...this from AP

Guitarist Chet Atkins Dies at 77

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Chet Atkins, whose guitar style influenced a generation of rock musicians even as he helped develop an easygoing country style to compete with it, died today. He was 77. Atkins died at home, a funeral director said. Atkins had battled cancer for several years. He underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in June 1997, and had a bout with colon cancer in the 1970s.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Sorcha
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 05:34 PM

NOOOOOOOOOOOO aw shit.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 05:39 PM

Oh no...damn, what is it with this week?!


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 05:44 PM

Sad news indeed. There can be very few guitarists who were not influenced by Chet Atkins .

Murray


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:11 PM

Aw, nuts! One less real musician to help stem the tide of mediocrity and banality.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,Rob Dale
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:11 PM

So long Chet

You were one of the greatest!


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Chip2447
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:12 PM

Farewell Chet, you will be missed.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,Dancing Mom
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:16 PM

OH, MY GOODNESS, I hadn't heard this one yet. What a surprise, I didn't know he had been ill. Wow... Goodbye...Sharon


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Banjer
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:17 PM

Sorry to hear of Chet's passing. I guess the Lord is trying to put together a top notch band and needed someone with his abilities.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,Mike Billo
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:32 PM

A true giant. This one is hitting me especially hard.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,rambam99
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:43 PM

Here are the full detail from AP. Geez this sucks!

Guitarist Chet Atkins Dies at 77 Musician Played on Hundreds of Hit Records, Including Elvis Presley's 'Heartbreak Hotel'

By JIM PATTERSON .c The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 30) - Chet Atkins, whose guitar style influenced a generation of rock musicians even as he helped develop an easygoing country style to compete with it, died Saturday. He was 77.

Atkins died at home, a funeral director said.

Atkins had battled cancer several years. He underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor in June 1997, and had a bout with colon cancer in the 1970s.

Atkins recorded more than 75 albums of guitar instrumentals and sold more than 75 million albums. He played on hundreds of hit records, including those of Elvis Presley (''Heartbreak Hotel''), Hank Williams Sr. (''Your Cheatin' Heart,'' ''Jambalaya'') and The Everly Brothers (''Wake Up Little Susie'').

As an executive with RCA Records for nearly two decades beginning in 1957, Atkins played a part in the careers of Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold and many others.

Atkins helped craft the lush Nashville Sound, using string sections and lots of echo to make records that appealed to older listeners not interested in rock music. Among his notable productions are ''The End of the World'' by Skeeter Davis and ''He'll Have to Go'' by Reeves.

''I realized that what I liked, the public would like, too,'' Atkins said in a 1996 interview with The Associated Press. '''Cause I'm kind of square.''

Chester Burton Atkins was born June 20, 1924, on a farm near Luttrell, Tenn., about 20 miles northeast of Knoxville. His elder brother Jim Atkins also played guitar, and went on to perform with Les Paul. Chet Atkins' first professional job was as a fiddler on WNOX in Knoxville, where his boss was singer Bill Carlisle.

''He was horrible,'' Carlisle said at a tribute concert to Atkins in 1997. ''But I heard him during a break playing guitar and decided to feature him on that.''

Atkins' unusual fingerpicking style, a pseudoclassical variation influenced by such diverse talents as Merle Travis and Django Reinhardt, got him hired and fired from jobs at radio stations all over the country. Atkins sometimes joked that early on his playing sounded ''like two guitarists playing badly.''

During the 1940s he toured with many acts, including Red Foley, The Carter Family and Kitty Wells. RCA executive Steve Sholes took Atkins on as a protege in the 1950s, using him as the house guitarist on recording sessions.

RCA began issuing instrumental albums by Atkins in 1953. George Harrison, whose guitar work on early Beatles records is heavily influenced by Atkins, wrote the liner notes for ''Chet Atkins Picks on the Beatles.''

Sholes put Atkins in charge of RCA Nashville when he was promoted in 1957. There, he helped Nashville survive the challenge of rock 'n' roll with the Nashville Sound. The lavish sound has been criticized by purists who prefer their country music raw and unadorned.

Atkins was unrepentant, saying that at the time his goal was simply ''to keep my job.''

''And the way you do that is you make a hit record once in a while,'' he said in 1993. ''And the way you do that is you give the audience something different.''

Atkins quit his job as an executive in the 1970s and concentrated on playing his guitar. He's collaborated with a wide range of artists on solo albums, including Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, Eric Johnson, George Benson, Susie Bogguss and Earl Klugh.

At the time he became ill, Atkins had just released a CD, ''The Day Finger Pickers took over the World.'' He also had begun regular Monday night performances at a Nashville club.

''If I know I've got to go do a show, I practice quite a bit, because you can't get out there and embarrass yourself.'' Atkins said in 1996.

''So I thought, if I play every week I won't be so rusty and I'll play a lot better.''

Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, Leona Johnson Atkins, and a daughter, Merle Atkins.

The funeral is Tuesday morning at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: SINSULL
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:49 PM

So once again we celebrate a man and his music and say a sad goodbye...aw crap!


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 06:49 PM

A wonderful humble cum humorous quote above - 'like two guitarists playing badly'. Another of the people I wish I'd had the privilege of knowing. RIP Chet Atkins, playing fine in the band.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Jeep man
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 07:03 PM

As you said Banjer, Maybe the Good Lord Likes a Little Pickin Too.

Chet Akins has been one of my heroes since the early fifties. The first record I ever bought was his. I remember it had "Kentucky Derby", "Lover Come Back to Me" and more.

The originals are going away and I fear for the future of good solid enjoyable music. Jeep is sad


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 07:16 PM

I remained fairly ignorant of Chet Atkins until I listened to the album he did with Mark Knopfler. Great stuff. Chet lived a long and wondrously creative life, and made a huge contribution to music and to life. I will remember him fondly.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Justa Picker
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 07:35 PM

I'm just about speechless. Chet was and will continue to be a major influence on my playing.

They say these things happen in 3's. (John Hartford, John Lee Hooker, and now Chet.) I pray we'll have Doc with us a good while longer.

My deepest condolences to Chet's family, friends, and fans.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Cobble
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 07:50 PM

Deepest Regrets. But I think he will be waiting with all the others to play for us on the other side. God Bless.

Cobble.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 08:25 PM

That bastard!!! I never got a chance to see him play live!

Yer gonna owe me ONE HELL OF a show when I see ya next, Chet!

*reaches fo his beat up copy of Neck And Neck*


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Sorcha
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 08:27 PM

Well, if S/He is looking for a band S/He ought to have it by now. Maybe we can keep the Doc for a while longer.....when he goes I am just going to sit down and bawl.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 08:28 PM

Thanks for the music, Chet. God be good to you. See you on the next leg of the trip.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 09:44 PM

I remember watching the "Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" back in the late Sixties when Chet Atkins was a frequent guest. Everybody is (or should be) familiar with his guitar style, but one night on the Glen Campbell show, he walked out wearing a tux and carrying a Jose Ramirez classic. He sat down, propped his left foot on a low footstool, set the guitar on his left leg, and proceeded to play Tarrega's Requerdos de la Alhambra (tremolo study) as well as I have ever heard anyone play it. Chet Atkins was one hell of a guitarist.

So long, Chet, and thanks for the music.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,khandu
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 10:01 PM

I am deeply grieved. Chet was one of a kind. My dad's favorite guitarist and one of mine.

"I was on the front porch listening, taking lessons from my Dad

When he tried to teach me Freight Train Blues on the old flattop he had

He would tell about the men who made the music on the frets

But in his mind, the best you'd find was a guitar man named Chet

He talked about old Merle and Doc and Mississippi John

About the magic in the six-strings that they turned into a song

Then for a while he'd sit and smile as he smoked his cigarette

He'd say 'Take my word, the best I've heard is a guitar man named Chet'

Now Chet would play his guitar with his unblemished style

Dad would play it rough as hell but he always made me smile

When he would play he'd laugh and say 'Son, you ain't heard nothing yet

Till you lend an ear so you can hear a guitar man named Chet'."

(from "A guitar Man Named Chet" by Ken Whitfield)

Rest well, Dear Chet. You are a mountain!

khandu


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Bert
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 10:50 PM

Clinton, I hate to correct you but I think you meant to say "ONE HEAVEN OF A SHOW"


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Ebbie
Date: 30 Jun 01 - 11:02 PM

The only thing that makes me smile tonight is the thought that my brother is going to get to play with him.

Good night, Chet.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: kendall
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 12:18 AM

Will it never end? Who is going to replace these giants?


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 12:18 AM

Just too damn sad, but he has been failing pretty badly for awhile and at least his pain is gone now. The great guitarist that he was, let's not forget the monstrous shadow he threw over Nashville as a producer. Not everyone agreed with his decisions, but very few had the power to change a Chet Atkins decision. The general course of Country Music was controlled and manipulated by him for many years.

He will be missed to say the very least and I hope Kim checks in here because I will guarantee that the city of Nashville will be virtually closed down for days. When a major luminary passes it is a significan event there and I recall the death of Marty Robbins and how the town could not focus on anything else. When Sarah Canon (Minnie) died it was simply unbelievable.

Thanks for everything Chet, but especially for your rendition of one very special song, you know the one.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: rangeroger
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 12:28 AM

My voiced comment at the title of the thread was the NOOOOOOOO uttered by Sorcha.

I bought my first guitar in 1960,an acoustic archtop.I then proceeded to buy some albums with guitars on the cover as I really didn't know of any guitarists other than Duane Eddy and the lead guitarist for the Shadows (Marvin Welch?).Naturally Iwas drawn to those beautiful Gretsches on the covers of Chet's albums.

The same as Jeepman,my first albums.

The sheer mastery of his playing reduced me to listening only as I felt he was far beyond my capability.

I still have those albums and will get them out now to commerate his passing.

Oh, Angel Band

rr


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Marion
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 01:33 AM

Just earlier today (coincidence? maybe) I read an old article about Chet Atkins, and it ended with these paragraphs:

"My advice to young players just starting out, is for you to remember that a guitar is very easy to play simply, but as a solo instrument, it must be one of the most difficult to master. So it takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any short cuts, and I've been looking for a long time. It just takes practice, practice, practice. I believe if you set your goals and decide what you want to do in this world, you can do it. I have accomplished my goals, and I can tell you I didn't do it sitting around envying other guitarists. I did it by devoting my life to the instrument. I will admit there was luck and help from a lot of folks, but these things only come if you give it a hell of a try."

(Chet Atkins, as told to Jim Crockett)

I think each person should approach his guitar intelligently, and if there are limitations don't deny them. Work within your restrictions. Some things you can do better than others, some things you can't do as well. So accentuate the positive, work hard and use your intelligence and maybe things will happen your way.

Someone once said, if the Lord really loved you, he would see that you were born in the country or a small town, and would see that you had a guitar in your hands at an early age. So in that repect, the Lord has been good to me. I've had a great life, and I've enjoyed all the good things that have come my way. I sincerely appreciate all the things people have said and done for me.

It's not over yet. I will play guitar as long as I have the strength to pick it up, and I will still try to come up with new things. Maybe there won't be a lot of friends and neighbors to love it when I'm old, but I'll still be playing for my own enjoyment, cause that's why I started in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Marion
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 01:39 AM

Excuse my late night editting skills - all of the above post, except for the introductory sentence, is quoted from the article.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Proudson
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 01:46 AM

Great talent..nothing else to say.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: texastoolman
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 02:26 AM

ebbie..what a wonderful sentiment
all my dead guitar buddies can play with chet
he was one of the first
i ever heard of
who could really make a guitar sing
i saw segovia once
they were both on same page
the really greats never tire of practicing
it's a real joy to them
i think that swometimes we forget
the joy of making that "special sound"
that drew us into becoming musicians
in the first place
god i hope i get to play in that band
god bless you chet atkins
please say hi to everybody for me
tex


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Amergin
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 03:28 AM

Emmylou Harris sang his spirit home tonight...it put goosebumps all along my body...and put tears on my cheeks...


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Quincy
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 05:14 AM

An influence on so many......

God bless.

Yvonne


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: paddymac
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 07:29 AM

I've been just sitting and remembering the great joys brought to us in the jungles of southeast asia listening to Chet's records. At the time, his was the unique sound of home that seemed to reach across the differences and speak to the commonalities of all the guys in the outfit.

It's hard to pick out a "favorite" tune from his vast legacy of recordings, but a piece called "Bo Bo Stick Beat" keeps popping up in my mind. Thanks to the gods for letting us have him here for awhile.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Fiolar
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 08:47 AM

The first verse of "Ode" by Arthur O'Shaughnessy would seem relevant to Chet, methinks. "We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams; World-losers, and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems." He will be in good company this week - "Good night, sweet Chet."


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,Whistleworks
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 09:18 AM

I was lucky to have lunch with Chet Atkins in 1990. He told me this story: He was practicing his guitar on the upper deck of a cruise ship as this man, a jogger, passed him by every few minutes. After a few passes, the jogger stopped and listened to him finish a tune. The jogger then said "You're pretty good, but you're no Chet Atkins." Absolutely true. So long, Chet.

Bob Pegritz


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Alice
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 09:45 AM

I was very sad when I heard this news yesterday. In the 1950's, my older brother bought an electric guitar, and wrote a letter to Chet Atkins, telling him that he wanted to learn how to play like Chet. My brother received a personal letter in reply, encouraging him to keep playing. What a gentleman and sweet musician.

Alice Flynn


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: RangerSteve
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 10:14 AM

I have nothing to add to the above messages, except to say that I feel pretty much the same as everyone.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 01:05 PM

Chet wasn't the FIRST of the great fingerpickers, but he WAS the one who brought that style to AM. radio (Most of Merle's pop songs were vocals) God Bless him. He was probably responsible for a lot of kids looking much deeper into the music.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: JedMarum
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 01:34 PM

... sad to see another music jewell pass, but he left behind such a legacy, such a gift! Thank God for Chet, thanks Chet for your music!


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: grumpy al
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 02:12 PM

another musical GIANT gone. OH well! dont know what to say really a sad sad day grumps


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Mudlark
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 02:34 PM

Oh man, it is so hard to lose these people! I've admired this man, not just for his faulous virtuosity but also for his spirit, for as long as I can remember. I remember hearing him on Prairie Home Companion, a perfect foil for Keillor, funny, humble, always willing to play the straight man, but getting most of the laughs.

My first "good" guitar was a relatively inexpensive production model but made by the man who made a guitar for Chet Atkins. Tho I rarely play this guitar anymore, being nylon stringed, I will always keep it on that association alone.

What a loss....and how lucky we were to have him at all....


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 02:53 PM

rangeroger, the lead guitarist in the Shadows was Hank Marvin. Bruce Welch played rhythm.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: rangeroger
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 03:02 PM

Thank you, Murray. Igot both last names right.

Paddymac, I still have the 45 of Boo Boo Stick Beat,which I played for myself last night. I can stll remember my mother's consternation when I bought.She thought it was a stupid name for a song and saw no redeeming qualities in my purchase. Until she heard it and liked it.

rr


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: marty D
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 03:31 PM

Great player, STRAGE album covers. For years I thought he was a beautiful woman!

R.I.P Chet

marty


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: beachcomber
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 03:48 PM

What terribly sad news. Chet Atkins seemed to have been there "forever", did,nt he? What pleasure his playing gave to so many over all those years. For a long time I never knew that he was anything other than a brilliant musician who played on records with just about anyone whose records I happened to buy. One evening some years ago, on some kind of awards show on TV, I heard and saw him sing a very sentimental but lovely song about "Dad". It was around the time my own father died and I'm not ashamed to say , it moved me beyond belief. Does anyone know if a recording of that song exists? I believeI still have the video that I recorded of the show. RIP Chet your legacy will be your world wide memorial.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,Frogmore
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 03:56 PM

A rare guy. It's impossible for ANYONE to not love the guitar playing of this man. R.I.P.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: vindelis
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 03:56 PM

Just heard the news, my condolences to his family.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: bobby's girl
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 06:28 PM

So sad - I loved his album with Mark Knopfler and wanted to know more.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Lanfranc
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 06:49 PM

The first guitar instrumental I ever essayed was "Windy and Warm", inspired by the playing of Chet Atkins. Thirty-five years on I still haven't quite got it right!

One of my first tastes of Country Music was from the "Country Side of Jim Reeves", produced by Chet Atkins.

One of may all-time favourite albumns is "Neck and Neck" - I played it again today to remember him.

Another hero gone. I only knew the man by his music, and that only from records, and the humour (and humility) that shone through in that collaboration with Mark Knopfler and in the interviews and articles as quoted above.

Like millions more, I'll miss him. We have his legacy in recorded form, but it is sad that there will be no more.

Vaya con dios, Chet.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Big Mick
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 07:55 PM

Want to hear a wort of guitar artistry? Get the Chieftains CD with the title of "Another Country". Go to the cut called "Tahitian Skies/Chief O'Neill's Favorite Hornpipe". Chet starts out with Tahitian Skies accompanied by the Chieftains on their trad instrumentation with Moloney playing whistles. They then segue into Chief O'Neill's with Moloney on the pipes. Atkins then plays it on the guitar. I have been trying to copy his elegant rendition since I first heard it. Wonderful stuff.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: SDShad
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 12:17 AM

You know, I don't think own a single one of the man's albums, but every time his unassuming smile showed up on the tube and those marvelously skilled fingers started to work their magic, I was mesmerized. He has been on my short, short list of favorite guitarists since I was a teenager. I can't believe we won't be seeing that face and those fingers anew ever again. It just ain't sinking in yet. Just trying to find a way to express my reaction and his influence is choking me up. Seems to me a little of his legacy has been passed along to anyone of the last couple of generations who's ever laid hands on a guitar, hoping to make beautiful sounds....damn, damn, damn. Threes, indeed.

Chris

Chris


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Ebbie
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 02:15 AM

One of the images of Chet that have stayed with me is of going by his room and hearing him inside practicing his guitar all alone. It's no wonder at all that he was so good.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GMT
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 04:16 AM

This is not a happy day. I log onto Mudcat to here that Chet is gone. Did they mention it here in the UK ?

A new star shines in heaven.

So long Chet and thanks.

Gary


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: BlueJay
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 04:32 AM

When I first started playing guitar, in the early sixties, I took lessons from Gary Atkins, Chet's nephew. A helluva guitarist in his own right. I couldn't even tune the gutair, much less play anything. Gary got me through the fundamentals, and in retrospect he was probably playing a Gibson ES-335, or a similar model. Needless to say I've had a fondness for Chet's music ever since. I wish I could play one tenth as well as either of them. Does anyone know whatever happened to Gary Atkins?

Rest in Peace, Chet. Chetfest in Nashville is bound to be an incredible event this year. I don't know the dates, but I think it starts in a week or so from now. If any of you can attend, it would be more than worth your while, I'm sure. I can't go, but at least my daughter, Annie Enke and my son in law, David Enke will be there. They have a new mini-disc recorder. I sure hope they make proper use of it. Good night, Chet. THANKS, BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 07:33 AM

Did they mention it here in the UK ?

Here is the Guardian obituary.

Everyone has talked about him as a performer. As a record producer responsible for "the Nashville Sound", maybe there's another side to it ("casting out the backwoodsy banjos and fiddles and bringing in brass and string sections and vocal choruses"). A quote in that obituary suggests that he may have been a little inclined to agree with that:

There were no breast-beating recantations but, according to Dawidoff, "he still [had] reservations about how far afield he took country music from the relatively unadorned pre war downhome sound."

"We almost do lose our identity sometimes," Atkins admitted. "But somebody'll come along and get us back where we need to be."

And I think that says it all, about music and about a lot of other things, including the Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GMT
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 07:56 AM

Thanks McGrath. Maybe we'll be lucky and get a programme on the telly about him.

Gary


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: GUEST,SharonA
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 09:57 AM

I feel like we're missing the Rapture or something... a lot of people who excelled in their crafts have passed on over these last couple of weeks.

For what it's worth, my local folk-song society friends and I jammed on "Your Cheatin' Heart" in Chet Atkins's honor last night. He will indeed be sorely missed, but thankfully his sound will live on. What a treasure we have lost.

SharonA


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 10:41 AM

Along with everything else, seems he did a lot to nurture young talent -- dulcimer player David Schnaufer and songwriter Cheryl Wheeler come to mind, but I think there were lots of others.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Kim C
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 11:54 AM

Having grown up in Nashville, Chet Atkins was always part of my consciousness. Mister and I went to see the Prairie Home Companion at the Ryman several years ago, which was the first live show there after the big renovation. Of course Chet was on the bill. What a guy.

It always seemed to me that Chet was for the artists, even though he had worked for the big business. I heard a radio interview with him one time where he really slammed the Country Music Association. I wish I could remember what he said. At the time it made me gasp! The CMA is a sacred cow, you know. But Chet owned this town and could say whatever he wanted and couldn't nobody touch him.

Ebbie, my dad is partyin' down with your brother and Chet and John Hartford :-)


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 03:22 PM

Farewell to a fine guitarist. I think I'm going to turn off the radio and not read the papers for awhile. Tired of bad news.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: LR Mole
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 04:53 PM

As Auden said of Yeats,"...he became his admirers..."
Later,Chet.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 12:10 AM

Kim, thanks for the leap of the heart and a broad grin. You are so right.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 11:57 AM

Dear Beachcomber,

I think the song you're remembering about "Dad" was Chet's "I Still Can't Say Goodbye", a truly moving elegy that he always dedicated to his own father's memory. We saw him play it in concert about seven years ago and it brought an unbidden tear to the eye then...it does even moreso right now.

Thank you, Chet, for all you gave us while you were here and for the legacy you leave behind.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Jim Krause
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 02:20 PM

Damn the time. All my heroes are kicking the bucket. What am I gonna do? Thank heaven Pete Seeger and Doc Watson are still with us. If either of you finds out about this post, do take care of yourselves, and please, please keep on picking and singing.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: beachcomber
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 04:42 PM

Thanks Mountain Dog, That is exactly the song and the emotion that I remember. I was hoping that some kind person would furnish me with athe lyric and maybe even a chord progression? beach


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 03 Jul 01 - 07:19 PM

Dear Beach,

Go to the COWPIE C&W lyrics site here, assuming my blue clicky skills have not deserted me and click on the Song Corral icon. Check under "A" for Atkins and you'll find the chords/lyrics for this and several other tunes. Incidentally, Chet recorded the tune on his "Chet Atkins, CGP" album around 1988. ("CGP" is, of course, Country Guitar Player...)

All the best!

P.S. Just in case my blue clicky mojo has faded, here's the URL for the COWPIE site:

http://www.roughstock.com/cowpie/


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Subject: OBIT: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 Jul 01 - 09:52 AM

Nice article today on Chet Atkins funeral in the NYTimes -- tout Nashville came out -- on the Web by now I guess at www.nytimes.com. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 04 Jul 01 - 10:07 AM

Here's the text:

July 4, 2001 Guitars Gently Weep as Nashville Pays Tribute to Chet Atkins By DAVID FIRESTONE ASHVILLE, July 3 — Chet Atkins was as lean and spare and intense as Nashville is boisterous, a reticent musical craftsman who shaped and defined a city of showmen. At his funeral today, a worshipful country music industry tried to define its debt to him, finally giving up on superlatives and expressing itself as he did in the gentle picking of a Gretsch electric guitar.

As his friends Marty Stuart and Vince Gill played some of Mr. Atkins's hits, much of country music's royalty sat motionless on the hard wooden pews of the Ryman Auditorium, the old gospel tabernacle where Mr. Atkins played so often with the Grand Ole Opry. There was a strong sense among them that Mr. Atkins, who died of cancer on Saturday at 77, was the best musician of their music's founding generation, and took with him something elemental that is now lost in the marketplace.

"We will never see the like of his talent in one man," said a barely composed Eddy Arnold, the country singer whose hits in the 1950's and 60's were produced by Mr. Atkins. "When you talked about who was the greatest guitar player, Chet's name was never mentioned, because you just took him and put him up there, and then you argued about the rest of them."

But even beyond his six-string virtuosity, Mr. Atkins presided over the city for decades as its most prominent recording executive, a principal creator of the smooth and palatable "Nashville Sound" that took the music from its bluegrass origins to worldwide commercial success and erected a pillar of the state's economy. If the strings and controlled arrangements he and other producers added to the music stole some of its spontaneity and edge over the years, Mr. Atkins always said he did what was necessary to keep from being drowned out by rock 'n' roll.

Some results of his rescue efforts were evident in the long caravan of limousines that pulled up to the side door of the Ryman this morning and discharged celebrities that he first signed to recording contracts, or produced, or coached through ramshackle lives to stardom.

"He changed my life," said Charley Pride, the industry's only black superstar, discovered by Mr. Atkins. "Everything that ever happened to me started with him."

Dolly Parton, whom he signed to RCA, was not there, but Ray Stevens was, and Steve Wariner and T. G. Sheppard.

But it was the older stars, Mr. Atkins's own fragile generation, who showed up in the greatest numbers, struggling through infirmities to pay their tributes. Kitty Wells and her husband, Johnny Wright, walked slowly into the hall, Mr. Wright using a cane. Jumpin' Bill Carlisle, 92, whose Knoxville radio show gave Mr. Atkins early exposure in the 1940's, arrived in a wheelchair, a difficult sight for those who remembered him bounding across the stage of the Ryman during two of the three decades it housed the Opry. Waylon Jennings, country music's legendary rowdy, squirmed into his wheelchair from the back of the day's longest stretch limousine.

"He was a genius," said Mr. Jennings, whom Mr. Atkins signed and produced. "We used to argue and we'd get madder than hell. Then we'd go inside and make some great records."

Mr. Atkins's orange Gretsch guitar sat on the front of the stage in a spotlight during the service, next to one of his signature white hats. His friend Paul Yandell played a similar guitar on "Mr. Sandman," an instrumental hit for Mr. Atkins in 1955, and Connie Smith sang the gospel hymn "Farther Along," backed by an instrumental group that included Mr. Stuart on mandolin.

Later, perhaps in a tribute to Mr. Atkins's sweetened production style, Mr. Stuart and several other musicians played the old Skeeter Davis song "The End of the World," accompanied by a string quartet.

Garrison Keillor, who became a friend of Mr. Atkins's after many years of sharing the stage on Mr. Keillor's public radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion," gave a eulogy laced with quotations from their personal correspondence, revealing a joking side to the guitarist not always on display in the studio.

"I had a screamer in the audience," Mr. Atkins wrote Mr. Keillor a few years ago. "I saw her later and she wasn't all that bad, about 35. A fellow could run some weight off her and maybe fall in love."

Mr. Keillor told some of the Atkins stories that have entered into local lore: How Mr. Atkins grew up poor and asthmatic in eastern Tennessee, replacing a broken string on his Sears Silvertone guitar with a wire from the screen door; how he developed his trademark picking style listening to Merle Travis on a crystal radio set; how he enchanted listeners at his first Opry performance in 1946 with an acoustic version of "Maggie," prompting Minnie Pearl to kiss him and say: "You're a wonderful musician. You're just what we've been needing around here."

Mr. Keillor reminded his audience of about 1,800 that Mr. Atkins knew and played with Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, and said Dolly Parton recently kept him laughing for hours as she flirted outrageously with him on his deathbed.

And he called Mr. Atkins the "guitar player of the 20th century," perhaps the greatest influence on other guitar players any musician has had.

"You might be shy and homely and puny and from the sticks and feel looked down upon," Mr. Keillor said, "but if you could play the guitar like that, you would be aristocracy and you would never have to point it out. Anybody with sense would know, and the others don't matter that much anyway."

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Mark Clark
Date: 04 Jul 01 - 01:59 PM

Thanks, Brian, for including that article here.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: beachcomber
Date: 04 Jul 01 - 03:41 PM

Mountain, you ol' dog you, You're brilliant. Your blue clicky worked like a charm and I've "ear" marked that great site you pointed out. Isn't it an excellent ref for country songs/singers, quite a complement to our own DT I think. Many thanks hope I can return favour sometime. Beach

PS Bernard and you, you'll be the death of me with all this technology.


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Subject: RE: Farewell, Chet Atkins....
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 Jul 01 - 04:32 PM

There is an official website that might interest some: www.misterguitar.com

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Kim C
Date: 05 Jul 01 - 01:01 PM

Very nice article. The visitation and funeral were both open to the public.

Does anyone know why Waylon's in a wheelchair?


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Jul 01 - 05:34 PM

Right! That one struck me too, Kim. Waylon was my musical hero for years- and I still :(

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Jul 01 - 05:38 PM

Right! That struck me too, Kim. Waylon was my musical hero for years and I still don't want him to die! Does anyone know what his problem is? Seems like I read about a car wreck- no, that was George Jones...

:(

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Jul 01 - 05:40 PM

Right! That struck me too, Kim. Waylon was my musical hero for years and I still don't want him to die! Does anyone know what his problem is? Seems like I read about a car wreck- no, that was George Jones...

:(

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Jul 01 - 09:54 PM

like i said in the other thread, nashville is really something else when one of it's heroes passes. I was living there for Marty Robbins and can only surmise what atkin's funeral was like.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 02:14 PM

sorry


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Subject: RE: Chet Atkins Funeral
From: Peter T.
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 02:22 PM

He was hit by a heron. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Farewell, Chet Atkins.... (June 2001)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Sep 09 - 01:21 AM

In another thread, sommebody posted a link to this document, an article written by Janis Ian: http://janisian.com/article-chet_atkins.html. It's no longer available on the Janis Ian Website, so I thought I'd post it here:

In Memoriam: Chet Atkins

Performing Songwriter, 2001

The first time I met Chet Atkins in the flesh, he grinned, handed me a Gibson, and said "Play me something pretty". Now I'd seen him playing my songs on TV, and I knew there'd be nothing pretty about it if I attempted to play as well. So I demurred, saying I wasn't a guitarist but a songwriter. "Horse hockey. I've heard your records. Now, sit back and play me something pretty." Not a request, but a command. I played whatever came to mind, then we went to lunch.

That was the thing about Chet. He was interested. Whether it was a guitar piece, a bad joke, or a new piece of technological wizardry, he demanded you show it to him right now, or pay the price. The price was usually lunch - half a tuna sandwich with pickle on the side, dry bread.

Great artists have one thing in common; there's no ego involved when they're in pursuit of their art. Oh, Chet would strive to out-dazzle anyone who dared to walk on stage with him. That was his job. But he loved to hear a good player, and if it was something new to him (as much of my guitar work was, since I couldn't manage to play in anyone else's style), he'd make you repeat it until he had it down. Then you'd go to lunch. We bonded over tuna fish.

I came to Nashville in 1986 with all the assumptions Northerners make about the South; that people here were more bigoted, more ignorant, and generally more foolish than their Northern counterparts. When Chet and I started to pal around, I learned just how wrong I was. Shortly after becoming friends, we went out to dinner with Chet's wife Leona at the country club they belonged to. I was uneasy making conversation with her at first. Chet and I usually talked about music and told dirty jokes, neither of which seemed appropriate. Somehow we got onto the subject of country clubs, and I asked why they didn't belong to the "top club" in town. Leona leaned forward, a look of horror on her face, and said "Because those people still use the 'N' word there." She sat back, shaking her head in annoyance.

I did some asking around and discovered that Chet was known for walking the thin line between the good old boys and the liberal faction. It was understood that Chet was a giant, beloved by all. It was also understood that you didn't mess with those he considered "his". When Charlie Pride (who is black) came to Nashville, determined to make a name for himself in the white bastion of country music, Chet made sure they were photographed together for all the papers. He took Charlie to breakfast at the Pancake Pantry, ignoring the stares. He made sure Pride was treated with respect - not because Chet was a bleeding heart liberal, but because he thought it was fair. There wasn't a bigoted bone in Chet's body, and he defended the right of anyone with talent to enter the arena. He remembered well enough what it had been like for himself.

Imagine a lanky kid from the mountains, determined to play better than anyone else, but with an accent thicker than molasses. He's from a rural area where there's no electricity in his house, so when he finally gets a guitar pickup, he has to go to the schoolhouse to plug it in. He persists, studying everyone from Django Reinhardt to Mother Maybelle Carter. Then he makes his way to the big city of Knoxville, where everyone he runs across makes fun of his speech, his clothing, his way of eating. A big comedown for a rural boy with dreams in his heart.

He never forgave them. Years later, speaking of that time, his lips would compress and anger would flare behind his eyes. To Chet, it was unforgiveable that they would judge him by his appearance, rather than his worth as a musician. Perhaps that's why he was color-blind.

I discovered how honorable he was, and how fiercely he defended "his own", when I began releasing records again in 1992 after eleven years of silence. The press made a huge fuss over my being gay, featuring "the news" on CNN, Entertainment Tonight and the like. I expected some flack from the Nashville industry; no matter how many people knew already, it was different reading about it in the papers. They'd have to explain to their families. They'd have to confront it with me. Some people were not going to be happy. And I was worried about Chet's reaction; I adored him, and didn't want anything to change our relationship.

Nothing changed; I still got invited to "spend some time playing and talking", we still went to lunch, and I forgot all about it. A while later I asked Chet whether it had bothered him, and he said with a glint in his eye, "Well, I kinda thought you might be getting sweet on me, but I guess with all this, you weren't." I laughed, threw my arms around him, and said "Chet, if ever I'd be sweet on a fella, it'd be you." We both smiled and he ruffled my hair, then asked "Haven't had any problems in town, have you?". No, no problems, I said. Much to my surprise. He nodded and we went to lunch.

A few years later, I discovered that when the television and magazine articles appeared, Chet had called a bunch of friends who might have a problem with it and told them that any problem they had with me, they would have with him. One told me he said "She's mine, you know." His protection meant a lot in a town where, fifteen years after my arrival, people still say "She's pretty new around here."

Around that same time my partner and I bought a house, and we held a "Moved but not unpacked" party for all our friends. Chet and Leona came, and he spent a few hours fiddling around with the antenna of an old Phillips radio we'd bought. I thought nothing of it until he left, when several people came up and said "Chet never goes to parties. Chet never goes anywhere! How come he came, and he stayed so long?!" I asked my partner what she thought, and she said "Honey, he's just serving notice to the community that we're all right with him."

Chet was an inveterate tinkerer, with a basement full of gadgets. He loved toys, mechanical marvels; I brought him a wind-up spider once and he played with it for half an hour, figuring out how it worked. His contributions to electronics in music are largely unknown, yet he's responsible for a ton of innovations, including the first solid-body amplified "acoustic" guitar. People like me, who started amplifying our guitars with Piezo pickups and then went to solider bodies to cut down on feedback, owe him our ability to compete with bands and loud electric guitars.

He loved jokes; some of the best memories I have are of sitting around a meat & three restaurant with Chet and his friends, listening as they told the worst dirty jokes in the world. He'd set you up, too. We went to lunch with Billy Edd Wheeler, years ago, and I was nervous because Billy Edd had written one of my favorite songs. "Shoot, he's just a hillbilly from the mountains. Be patient, he's not real good with words. Nice fella, though," said Chet. I spent the day talking down to Billy Edd, keeping my vocabulary simple, and staying away from deep topics. He told us about his college days, how he'd tinkered with this and that before finally coming home to the South. He offered up a lot of dirty jokes. I wondered why they were friends.

At the end of the night he slipped and made a comment about the new Tom Stoppard play. He sounded suspiciously intellectual. "Where did you go to school?" I asked. He said it was up North, nothing special. "And what did you study?" I wondered. Just some plays here and there, he replied. "And what was the name of the school?" Yale Drama, he told me. Chet roared while I stood there with egg on my face.

Chet loved to be around women. All women. Big, small, short, tall, he made polite passes at them all. In part it stemmed from his era, when flirtation was considered the duty of a polite male, and women were expected to enjoy it. In part, it was just a genuine fascination with femininity. The passes were always subtle, no follow-up necessary; just a bit of gentlemanly flirting. A friend of mine, a singer who'd known Chet for decades, was laughing about it one day, saying she'd been flattered and amused. She asked if I'd been flattered, too. "He's never flirted with me", I replied. She was astonished - "Never? …honey you must be the only woman in Nashville he's never made a pass at!" I thought about that for a while, getting more and more upset. How come? Wasn't I pretty enough? I knew he found me attractive; he was good about telling me a new haircut looked nice, or a new shirt flattered my figure. It bothered me that maybe he was just being polite with those compliments.

The next time I saw him, I told him it troubled me. He looked astonished. "Shoot, Janis. You're brilliant. You're a genius songwriter. You're… you're… you're a musician!". I laughed with relief; it wasn't that he found me unattractive, but that his main interest in me was musical - the way my brain and hands worked. The rest was unimportant.

His protection continued, though sometimes he reached an impasse. He invited me to perform with him on Prairie Home Companion, then told me sadly that it hadn't worked out. The show refused to have me on, saying I wasn't "family entertainment". Chet's lips were white when he told me, full of apologies. He refused to go into exactly what had been said, but I later discovered they'd had a shouting match over it, culminating in Chet calling the man who'd decided a "full-fledged upside-down-and-sideways all-kinds-of-fool". They didn't speak for some time, and Chet took great pleasure in introducing me to him backstage a few years later. He had to shake my hand as Chet stood there, grinning. It was as sweet for Chet as it was for me.

I realized he was getting frail for the first time at a show one January in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It featured Michael Hedges, Keb Mo', and Chet, with me sandwiched inbetween. I was completely unnerved at the thought of following Michael, a "real" guitarist, but Chet kept telling me not to worry. "You're prettier than he is by a long shot" he said with a lopsided grin.

It was an old theater, and the dressing room had no heat. Chet stood around trying to get his hands warm, worrying about the effect of the cold on his playing. We ended up standing at the side of the stage, face to face, our hands stuck under each others' armpits for warmth. He seemed fragile at that moment, an old man worried about his health. I walked him onstage because he was concerned about his sight; at the end of his set I walked him off.

Months later he had surgery for a brain tumor. Rumors were rampant; he'd never play again, he couldn't see, he couldn't speak. The city decided to honor him with a big concert at the Ryman Auditorium, and he asked if I would play. There I was, again sandwiched between real players like Marty Stuart and Mark Knopfler. I stepped forward and told a story: years ago, Chet asked why I didn't take guitar solos. "I can't play as fast as those guys do, Chet." He considered this for a moment, then said "Heck, if you can't play a whole lot faster, play a whole lot slower!" That's how the guitar solo in my song Welcome To Acousticville was born. That night I told the story, then played the song, and winked at Chet on the end chord of the solo. He rose slightly, tipped his hat at me, and winked back. They caught it on tape, and it's one of the proudest moments of my life.

After the brain surgery, he stopped playing in public. I would sit around listening to him plucking away, and wonder why. He was still learning new licks, trying to teach me harmonic runs (a lost cause, but one he never gave up on), and sounding great to my ears. I asked why he refused to play for an audience any more, and he replied "Maybe they can't tell, but I can. I can't play as fast any more, and I know I'll never play the same."

One of the things I learned from Chet toward the end of his life was how to behave like an honest star. Unfailingly courteous and cordial to his fans, he was conscious of their love for him, concerned that they'd worry over his health. As his strength declined, it became more difficult for us to go out for lunch. He had trouble walking, and it was hard to get him in and out of a car. I took to borrowing my partner's low-slung vehicle, rather than bringing my own SUV.

Chet would shuffle around the office in slippers, moving more and more slowly, but he still loved company. One day I arrived to find his doctor there, showing Chet a new walker. It was three-wheeled, and seemed to give him an easier time balancing than the old one. He practiced up and down the hall, then said "All right, let's go get lunch." We opened the door and handed him the walker. Chet looked at both of us like we were crazy, and said "Heck, I'm a star! I'm not going out with that thing in public!" He'd worked too hard, and too long, to let down any fans who might perceive the walker as an admission of defeat. We went to lunch with Chet using our shoulders for support instead.

I visited him at home for the last time, bringing my friend Philip with his new guitar. Chet ran his fingers along the strings and played a few runs, complimenting the instrument and showing us a new amp "some company sent". Then we ate the tuna sandwiches I'd brought. He was thinner than ever, so frail the whites of his bones seemed to show through the skin. He spent the afternoon holding my hand as I snuggled against him on the couch, cracking the occasional joke while people came and went. I was leaving on a long tour the next week, and wondered if it would be the last time I saw him. I hoped not; I'd always kept up with him by sending postcards of large-breasted women from around the world. I still had a stack of them to go.

That night I thought a lot about all he'd taught me.

It was Chet who taught me to make my playing look effortless. He understood that for a guitarist, the flashiest licks are usually the easiest. Once you've gotten them into your muscle memory, they're yours for life. It's the slow ones that stay difficult, competing with the hand's desire for motion, and the heart's insistence on speed.

It was Chet who taught me that you don't have to wave flags, or shout expletives, to make things change. You just have to live your life as though everyone else's bigotry doesn't exist, and make a point of doing the right thing in public.

It was Chet who taught me that the occasional bad joke keeps morale up better than an expensive gift. That it's nice to get awards, but more fun to sit in the basement and tinker with a new toy. That it's great to be acknowledged as one of the greatest guitar players in the world, but it's better to learn a brand-new lick. That if you behave humbly, sooner or later you will find yourself truly humble - and that humility is something we all need to learn.

My partner called me backstage at a concert in Helene, Montana, to give me the sad news. It hit me harder than I'd expected; even after seeing him the last time, I couldn't imagine he'd die. Life in Nashville without Chet was unthinkable; he'd been there for me almost from the day I arrived. I could count on him to explain why certain people didn't invite me to write with them, or ask me to their homes for dinner. I could count on him to explain what "Bless his heart" really meant, and why people stared at me no matter how I dressed. I could count on him to make it all right, or make me not care.

I remember mumbling something into the phone, asking her to give me Chet's home number so I could call the family. I spoke with his wife, who was as gracious as ever, and explained that I was on tour and would be unable to attend either the funeral or the memorial. I arranged to send a donation to the hospice that had cared for him those last weeks, as she requested. Then I walked onstage and told Chet stories until the heartache eased a bit. The empty space inside me lingered for weeks, as I kept pulling postcards out of my bag to send him from the road.

Some critics have said that his playing was lacking in "soul", and dated. I beg to differ. It was as clean as polished marble, thoughtful and precise, but there was heart behind every lick. And humor.

Chet was a great improviser, on all fronts. Several years ago I recorded a track to a song of mine called Memphis, then asked Chet to overdub the lead. I explained that I also hoped to have Willie Nelson sing with me on it. Chet pointed out that one of the problems with "recording in stages" is that the finished product often sounds like the musicians were never together in one room. I agreed but confessed that I didn't know how to solve it.

He did. At the end of his take, after the band on tape had finished, he added a wonderful obligatto guitar run, just as he might have in the studio. He timed it to fit right inbetween the last drum note, and the drummer's hearty laughter. To this day, even I would swear Chet was present at the session, adding that guitar lick to give everyone a chuckle. Remember, he wasn't just a guitarist, inventor, songwriter. He was also a producer out of the old school, concerned with the whole and subsuming his own work to the good of the track and the singer. He didn't need to show off.

I guess that's the thing of it. He was the best guitarist I've ever known, and he was proud of it - heck, he used the monikor CGP (Certified Guitar Player) on everything, taking great pleasure in adding it to his signature on letters. He took great pleasure in the gag, because he'd never been to college, never been certified in anything, and yet here he was owning half of Music Row with a catalogue stretching back to 1947. But at the end of the day, he was just as happy with a new lick, half a tuna sandwich, and a good joke.


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Farewell, Chet Atkins.... (1924-June 2001)
From: bankley
Date: 02 Sep 09 - 09:00 AM

Thanks Joe.... a good way for a picker to start the day


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Farewell, Chet Atkins.... (1924-June 2001)
From: Richie
Date: 02 Sep 09 - 03:00 PM

I did a show with Chet in 1992 in Winston-Salem NC.

When I went to pick up one of the other performers Chet was there in the hotel lobby ready to go. He asked me if he could ride with us so I said sure.

My trunk was packed with all my equipment and after moving everything around- there wasn't room for Chet's guitar!

Chet had to wait for another ride and I was embarassed beyond words.

Richie


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Subject: RE: OBIT: Farewell, Chet Atkins.... (1924-June 2001)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 11:31 AM

A sweet video of Chet and Dolly -- with something different from Chet. This seemed the best thread for it...

~ Becky in Long Beach


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