Posts Tagged ‘Gretsch’

Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player Exhibit Opens August 12

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Press release issued by The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum–

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will pay tribute to one of country music’s most versatile and visionary artists, Chet Atkins, with Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player, a biographical exhibit opening Friday, August 12, 2011, for a 10-month run in the Museum’s East Gallery.  The exhibition, which is made possible through the generous support of the Gretsch Company with additional support provided by Great American Country Television Network, will run through June 11, 2012.

Opening weekend festivities will include an exhibit introduction and talk by a Museum curator; a panel discussion featuring Ray Stevens, Steve Wariner and Billy Edd Wheeler and illustrated with photos, film footage and recordings from the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive; a film screening and more.  (A detailed schedule of grand opening activities is below.)

The exhibit will be accompanied by a richly detailed, lavishly illustrated, 96-page companion book, also titled Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player. Published by the Museum’s Country Music Foundation Press, the volume will include essays by noted Atkins authorities Walter Carter (on Chet and his guitars), Michael Cochran (on Chet’s life and career), Rich Kienzle (on Chet’s development and prowess as a guitarist) and Museum Senior Historian John Rumble (on Chet’s work as a producer and record label executive). Also included are tributes to Chet from Tommy Emmanuel, John Knowles, and Steve Wariner, recipients of Chet’s honorary C.G.P. designation; from Mark Pritcher, president of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society; and from Fred W. Gretsch, president of the Gretsch Company.  The book will be available in the Museum Store and at www.countrymusichalloffame.org.

“Chet Atkins was country music’s ultimate Renaissance man, one of the greatest instrumentalists in American music history and a true musical savant,” said Museum Director Kyle Young.  “His signature guitar licks shaped recordings by scores of legendary artists, including the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley and Kitty Wells, and his playing influenced future rock gods Duane Eddy, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler and many more.  As a producer, Chet was an architect of the ‘Nashville Sound’; he was also a brilliant record executive who signed and propelled a generation of country artists – including Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and Charley Pride – to fame.  Chet’s guiding hand shaped much of the bedrock of country music, and we’re honored to tell his story, one we know will resonate with country fans old and new.

“We are grateful to Chet’s family and friends for sharing their mementos and memories and allowing us to tell this extraordinary tale.”

Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player,
Made Possible Through the Generous Support of the Gretsch Company

Born Chester Burton Atkins on June 20, 1924, in Luttrell, Tennessee, Chet Atkins became one of the most respected musicians and producers in American music history.   His unparalleled achievements were acknowledged formally with his 1973 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Atkins died on June 30, 2001, and was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following year.

Employing a wealth of instruments, vintage photos, personal possessions and correspondence, career-spanning audio and video and more, Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player will explore the life and impact of this incomparable musician, producer and executive.

Nearly 20 of Atkins’ guitars will be featured in the exhibit, including the following:

* Chet’s first guitar, a Sears Silvertone he acquired at age 11 and upon which he taught himself to play

* Chet’s 1938 Gibson L-10; the guitar was custom-designed for its original owner, Les Paul, and handed over to Atkins in 1945

* A 1948 Gibson L-7 guitar used by Atkins in the recording studio, and onstage with Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, in the late 1940s

* Four Gretsch Chet Atkins model guitars, including a 1976 fire-engine-red Gretsch Chet Atkins Super Axe

Other notable artifacts include:

* A recording contract with Bullet Recording Co., dated July 20, 1946, stating that for Atkins’ recording of “Pickin’ the Blues,” the artist would receive a “one-cent royalty for all records listed to sell at a retail price of more than 50 cents.”

* Atkins’ 1954 guitar instruction manual, Chet Atkins Guitar Method

* A meticulous re-construction of the work-bench and shelves in Chet’s basement home studio, including tools, meters and personal effects including photos of Jerry Reed, Ray Stevens and others

* Atkins’ framed C.G.P. (“Certified Guitar Player”) diploma, which he bestowed on himself in 1997

Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player Grand Opening Month Program Schedule

All programs are included with Museum admission and free to Museum members, except as noted below.

Friday, August 12, 1:30 p.m.
Curator’s Exhibit Talk
A museum curator offers an introduction to Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player.

Saturday, August 13, 1:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion
Steve Wariner, Billy Edd Wheeler, and others discuss Atkins’ legacy.

Sunday, August 14, 1:00 p.m.
Guitar Demonstration: Ben Hall
The 2005 International Thumbstyle Guitar Champion, Ben Hall has performed or recorded with Charlie Louvin, Jeannie Seely and others. Hall will demonstrate the thumb-pick style of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis.

Sunday, August 14, 2:00 p.m.
Film Screening: Chet Atkins: A Life in Music (2000)

Sunday, August 21, 1:00 p.m.
Guitar Demonstration with David Anderson.

Sunday, August 21, 2:00 p.m.
Film Screening: Chet Atkins Rare Performances 1955 – 1975

Saturday, August 27, 2:00 p.m.
Concert: Tommy Emmanuel C.G.P. Salutes Chet Atkins
Tommy Emmanuel, one of a handful of legatees upon whom Atkins bestowed the C.G.P. designation, performs songs from Atkins’ catalog.

Sunday, August 28, 1:00 p.m.
Instrument Demonstration:  John Knowles, C.G.P
John Knowles, one of a handful of legatees upon whom Atkins bestowed the C.G.P. designation, demonstrates some of what he learned from Atkins.

Sunday, August 28, 2:00 p.m.
Film Screening: The Porter Wagoner Show with special guest Chet Atkins (1974, 1975)

Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit’s run.

These programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture.  With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.

More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.

A Birthday Salute to Charlie Watts

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

From the GretschDrums.com website:

This past June 2 marked the 70th birthday of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. And While Gretsch Drums and the whole Gretsch family join the drumming world in congratulating Charlie on this milestone, we have a reason of our own to celebrate. Charlie is the longest-running Gretsch endorsing artist. He’s played Gretsch drums for his entire career…starting even before he joined “The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band” in 1963.

Charlie Watts in 1969

As Charlie puts it, “I’ve always used Gretsch. I still use the same one that Max Roach advertised you should buy, which was the soft [rack] tom-tom, bass drum, deep [floor] tom-tom, and a snare drum.” That simple four-piece kit has anchored The Rolling Stones over a history that spans forty-eight years, more than thirty record albums, and dozens of legendary (and sometimes infamous) tours.

Although he established his reputation as one of the simplest and steadiest—and yet most recognizable and emulated—of all rock drummers, Charlie’s own musical tastes run toward jazz. In the late ’70s he joined fellow Stone Ian “Stu” Stewart in the retro boogie-woogie party band Rocket 88, which featured many of the UK’s top jazz, rock, and R&B musicians. In the 1980s, he founded and toured worldwide with a big band that included such jazz/rock luminaries as Evan Parker, Courtney Pine, and Jack Bruce.

In 1991 Charlie founded a quintet to honor his personal hero, Charlie Parker. Two years later that quintet recorded the critically regarded Warm & Tender, which reached #6 on the Billboard jazz charts. All told, Charlie recorded seven jazz albums between 1986 and 2004. And as recently as 2010 Charlie was gigging with a quartet called The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie, together with pianists Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters, plus Charlie’s childhood friend Dave Green on bass.

There’s much more to this story.  To read the rest of it, click here!

Chet Atkins Honored by Country Music Hall of Fame

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

“Years from now, after I’m gone, someone will listen to what I’ve done and know I was here…they’ll hear my guitars speaking for me.” – Chet Atkins

COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME ® AND MUSEUM TO HONOR “MISTER GUITAR” CHET ATKINS WITH BIOGRAPHICAL EXHIBIT

Sideman.  Studio musician.  Performer.  Recording Artist.  Producer.  Record Executive.  In an industry known for multi-talented individuals, perhaps no one has achieved such a vast and varied resume as the inimitable Chet Atkins.  The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will pay tribute to this versatile and visionary artist with the cameo exhibition Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player, which opens in the Museum’s East Gallery on August 12, 2011, and runs through June 2012.  The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Gretsch Company.  Additional support will be provided by Great American Country Television Network.

“Chet Atkins was country music’s ultimate Renaissance man, one of the greatest instrumentalists in American music history and a true musical savant,” said Museum Director Kyle Young.  “His signature guitar licks shaped recordings by scores of legendary artists, including the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley and Kitty Wells, and his playing influenced future rock gods Duane Eddy, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler and many more.  As a producer, Chet was an architect of the ‘Nashville Sound’; he was also a brilliant record executive who signed and propelled a generation of country artists – including Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and Charley Pride – to fame.  Chet’s guiding hand shaped much of the bedrock of country music, and we’re honored to tell his story, one we know will resonate with country fans old and new.

“We’re also honored to have the Gretsch Company as this exhibition’s title sponsor,” Young continued.  “Gretsch is an important part of American music history, and enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Chet.”

“My uncle, Fred Gretsch Jr., first signed Chet as a Gretsch signature guitar artist in 1954,” said Fred W. Gretsch, president of the Gretsch Company.  “Our company is proud of its long association with Chet,¬ and our family cherishes the special relationship that we shared with such a unique individual.  Today, we’re proud to support this special exhibition by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We share the Museum’s commitment to ensuring that Chet’s unrivaled legacy will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.”

Chester Burton Atkins was born on June 20, 1924, in Luttrell, Tennessee, a remote town nestled in the hills of Appalachia.  He grew up in a musical family – his mother sang and played piano, and his father was an itinerant music teacher – and at the age of eight Atkins began to learn the guitar and fiddle.  When Atkins’ parents divorced, his father relocated to Georgia, and his mother remarried. Young Chester, along with his brother, sister and stepfather, began playing regularly at square dances.  In 1936, an asthma attack forced him to live with his father in Georgia, where the more favorable climate made it easier for him to breathe.  While there, a teenaged Atkins heard Merle Travis on the radio; Travis’s thumb-and-finger picking style fascinated Atkins, who soon created his own thumb-and-two-finger variation.

After attending high school in Georgia, Atkins landed a job at WNOX in Knoxville, fiddling for singer Bill Carlisle and comic Archie Campbell.  He soon became a featured player on the station’s popular daily barn dance show, as well.  Over the next decade, Atkins worked as a musician for numerous artists and radio stations, including a memorable stint at KWTO in Springfield, Missouri.  It was there that station official Si Siman gave him the nickname “Chet.”  Siman, impressed with Atkins’ abilities, brought him to the attention of RCA Victor Records, and in 1947 the label’s Steve Sholes signed Atkins as a singer and guitarist.  Chet’s initial RCA recordings were not hits, and he returned to WNOX in 1948, working first with Homer & Jethro and then joining Maybelle and the Carter Sisters as lead guitarist.  He soon went back to KWTO, this time with the Carters.

When the Carters moved to Nashville in 1950 to become members of the Grand Ole Opry, Atkins joined them.  With the help of his mentor, Steve Sholes, and music executive Fred Rose, Chet became one of Nashville’s “A-Team” session musicians, recording with Johnnie & Jack, Hank Williams and others.  He also appeared on the Opry as a solo act and returned to making his own records; his first chart hit, a cover of the pop song “Mr. Sandman,” came in 1955, followed by a hit guitar duet with Hank Snow on “Silver Bell.”  Soon after, fans began to refer to Atkins as “Mr. Guitar,” and Gretsch Guitars introduced a model bearing his name.

Throughout the 1950s, Atkins’ work relationship with the New York–based Sholes deepened; in 1952, Atkins began organizing sessions for Sholes, and shortly thereafter Sholes began trusting Atkins to produce sessions whenever Sholes’ schedule prevented his coming to Nashville.  In 1955, Sholes made Atkins manager of RCA’s new Nashville studio, a space rented as needed from the Methodist Television Radio and Film Commission.   Two years later, Sholes and Atkins convinced the label to commission its own office and studio in Nashville.  The resulting building, known today as RCA Studio B, opened in November 1957, adding impetus to the growing Music Row area. Sholes installed Atkins as head of the label’s Nashville artist & repertoire operation, and ten years later made him a company vice president.

As rock & roll eroded country music’s record sales and threatened its viability, Atkins’ production skills came to the foreground.  Atkins – along with Decca’s Owen Bradley, Columbia’s Don Law and Capitol’s Ken Nelson – began to craft recordings that would appeal to pop listeners as well as country fans.  The style of these recordings, in which singers were backed by neutral rhythm sections and steel guitars, and fiddles were replaced by vocal choruses, came to be known as the “Nashville Sound.”  Atkins mined gold from the new approach immediately, first producing Jim Reeves’ 1957 crossover hit “Four Walls” and, later that year, producing Don Gibson’s 1958 double-sided smash “Oh Lonesome Me” / “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Atkins assumed production of established stars, including Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves and Hank Snow, and produced hits by new stars including Bobby Bare, the Browns, Floyd Cramer, Skeeter Davis, Dottie West and many more.

During the 1960s, Atkins continued to record and perform:  Always a jazz lover, he increasingly explored the genre in his performances and appeared at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival; he also played for President Kennedy the following year.

By the middle of the decade, Atkins was producing more than two dozen acts for RCA.  During this time, he signed a cadre of now-legendary country artists, including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jerry Reed and Connie Smith.

As the 1970s dawned, Atkins reduced his producing commitments and focused more on his own recordings and live performances.  He embarked on a series of collaborative albums, working with Les Paul, Jerry Reed, Merle Travis, Doc Watson and others.  However, he still found time to facilitate additions to the RCA roster, including Ronnie Milsap, Ray Stevens and Steve Wariner.

Atkins’ virtuosity was undeniable, and his mantle quickly filled with the hardware to prove it.  In 1973, Atkins was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  He went on to earn 14 Grammy awards and nine Country Music Association awards during his career.

In 1982, Atkins relinquished his RCA executive role and left the label to record for Columbia in 1983.  He also gave himself an honorary degree:  Atkins christened himself a “Certified Guitar Player” and began signing his name as “Chet Atkins, C.G.P.”  Atkins would later bestow this “degree” on several legatees, including Jerry Reed and Steve Wariner.

For the remainder of his life, Atkins continued to record and play; he collaborated on albums with George Benson, Suzy Bogguss, Mark Knopfler, Mark O’Connor and others, exploring and expanding the boundaries of country, jazz and pop.  In 1993, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Atkins died on June 30, 2001.  He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following year.

Chet Atkins:  Certified Guitar Player will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit’s duration.

More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org  or by calling (615) 416-2001.

Dinah Gretsch Featured In Pooler Magazine

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Dinah Gretsch's Pooler Magazine Cover

Already one of the best-known women in the musical instrument industry, Dinah Gretsch can now add “cover girl” to her list of credits. The Gretsch Company CFO (and wife of company president Fred W. Gretsch) was recently the subject of the cover story in Pooler magazine. The publication is a regional title that focuses on key personalities and events in the Savannah, Georgia suburb for which it’s named. Fred and Dinah Gretsch live in Pooler, and the community is just a short drive from the Gretsch drum factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina.

In addition to outlining the 127-year history of the Gretsch Company, the Pooler Magazine cover story also spotlights Dinah Gretsch’s current personal efforts as an activist for music education, including the Mrs. G’s Music Foundation. Dinah founded that organization in 2010 to help local schools keep music instruction in their curriculum. The article quotes Dinah as saying, “I love kids, and kids love music. There are some rural schools in our area that never had music education. So the foundation is helping to start those programs from scratch.” So far the Mrs. G’s Foundation has brought the World Drumming Program to Savannah’s Notre Dame Academy and to Ridgeland’s Thomas Heyward Academy, in addition to funding music teachers and a visiting-artist program that’s already presented drummers Mark Schulman (Pink) and Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) and guitarists Bob Sabellico, Richard Kiser, and Joe Robinson. In addition, a collaboration with the Lexington, Kentucky-based Foundation For Music Learning, has resulted in music instruction being placed in eight Headstart programs in Savannah.

For more information on Dinah Gretsch’s Pooler Magazine cover story, go to Pooler Magazine’s website.