Chet Atkins: The Lasting Influence of “Mr. Guitar”

The Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibition which opened in August 2011 continues into the summer of 2012. Located in the East Gallery of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, the exhibit pays tribute to one of country music’s most versatile and visionary artists.

Ten years after Chet’s death in June of 2001, interest in him has not faded in the least.  One only needs to see all that is blogged, tweeted, and otherwise posted about him on a daily basis.  Here are a couple recent examples:

“Chet Atkins: The Lasting Influence of ‘Mr. Guitar’” by Craig Havighurst.  Excerpt:

“It’s not that there weren’t solo guitar players before him — but there weren’t that many. Chet took solo guitar to everybody.

Even to this day, young devotees are embracing Atkins’ style. Ben Hall, a 22-year-old from Okolona, Miss., showcased at this year’s convention. Hall uses the tricky right-hand technique that Atkins adopted from Kentuckian Merle Travis and refined in the 1940s and ’50s.

‘It revolves around a bass note,’ Hall says. ‘The fingers … Merle used one, Chet thought Merle was using two. So he used two and three and sometimes a handful of fingers. They play the melody. And there’s famous stories of so many great guitar players along the way who play other styles listening to this and saying, ‘I had no idea that’s one instrument.’ ”

Read the entire story here.

December 2011 issue of Premier Guitar magazine, “Chet Atkins: Country Gentleman,” also by Craig Havighurst.  Excerpt:

“Refinement. It’s a word we’ve come to associate (sometimes incorrectly) with luxury brands and upscale dining. Musically, maybe the term conjures up a string quartet. It’s not what you see emblazoned on welcome signs to little Appalachian Mountain towns like Luttrell, Tennessee.

But to properly consider the career of Chester Burton Atkins, native son of said mountain town, the true meaning of refinement (‘to make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions,’ says Webster) could prove more than a little useful. Chet’s not the only small-town kid to become a major-league musician, cultural force, and executive, though few have achieved so much with such humility. But on the guitar, where nails meet strings, Chet stands pretty much alone.”

Read the entire story here.

Chet Atkins Exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Photo by Donn Jones Photography.

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