Chet Atkins Guitar Ambassador To The World.
If you say the words Chet Atkins and Guitar anyone who has been in the music business
for any length of time will know exactly whom you're talking about. He was born
in Luttrell,Tennessee,USA in 1924 and he died in 2001.
Chet Atkins has done more to promote the guitar than probably anyone else. He is one of the
World's most famous and favourite guitarists of all time. He is so popular you could
even say Atkins Chet and people would still know whom you're referring to. Yes,he is
Chet Atkins was a superb excellent instrumentalist guitarist. He had his own unique style
of fingerpicking while simultaneously using the alternating 1-V bass pattern on the
low strings of the guitar which he played with his thumb. The Chet Atkins guitar style has
probably made him one of the most copied and emulated guitarists of all time.
It made him sound like 3 guys playing at once...because he could cover the melody,
the rhythm,and the bass all at the same time. Listen to his definitive guitar version
of the song “Mister Sandman.”
Although Chet didn't originate this style he did take it to a whole new level. He was
very influenced by a great country picker named Merle Travis who played a style
similar to Chet. But CA was also influenced by jazz guitarists George Barnes,
Django Reinhardt,and Les Paul. But I don't think Chet ever copied any
of the Thrash Death Heavy Metal guitar licks...thank God.
Most people think of CA primarily as a country guitarist,but he was equally adapt
at playing classical and jazz guitar styles with ease. Heck he even did an instrumental
album of all Beatles songs called “Chet Atkins Picks On The Beatles.” Oh...and one
more thing just remember he never actually picked on them physically or challenged
them to a fight,he just played their songs on his guitar OK?
He was so revered and imitated and Chet Atkins guitar lessons are
copied by guitarists around the world. And I know there are country pickers
out there that play nothing but CA on the guitar. So if somebody comes up to
you and tells you that you sound like CA...that is a supreme compliment.
CA was truly a master at playing many different forms of music. He knew all the
complicated harmonics,jazz chords,open string runs,etc...he was a truly amazing
player and just made it look so easy due to his years and years of experience
and knowledge of the guitar.
Part of the magic of his style is that he is one of those superb guitarists
who can take some really easy guitar songs and transform them into
his own style,and make them sound like a million bucks.
One comment about CA that I've heard over and over from great country
guitarists like “Steve Wariner”and “Buster Douglas” and other greats
who have just casually played guitar with Chet. Is that “the guy knows
just about every song ever written.” In other words if CA has heard it he can play it.
It just amazed them that he knew and could play so many different pop/country songs.
“Mr. Guitar” and “The Country Gentleman” were some of Chets internationally
known nicknames. He also had a humorous one that he bestowed upon himself,
and other great players like Tommy Emmanuel,and Jerry Reed. Chet would put the
letters CGP after his name which stands for “Certified Guitar Player.” I have a nickname
too,but I don't think I should print it in case there's kids reading this.
Anyways,besides being an extraordinary guitarist Chet was also a famous record
producer who along with Owen Bradley created the crossover country music style
known as the “Nashville Sound.” This new music sound expanded country's appeal
to pop music fans as well.
CA also produced records for many other famous musicians including the
“Everly Brothers,” “Elvis Presley,” “Waylon Jennings,” and many many more.
How's that for dropping some names huh? CA knew everybody.
Gosh with all these new things happening in Chets career. I smell money no wonder
he was able to afford all those beautiful guitars he owned and the fancy home
recording studio and all the other stuff.
CA received many honours during his career. He received 14 Grammy Awards
and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Country Music
Association Instrumentalist of The Year Awards. Another great guitar
accomplishment for Chet is that he's inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
and Museum. Wow,that's a lot of guitar trophies. Hmmm...but I wonder if he
ever won the father of the year award? Seems like that's the only one he's missing.
OK...now this may seem strange but oddly enough back in Chets early guitar
gigging days he was often fired for not sounding country enough. Being the innovator
that he was music band leaders were not used to his unique distinctive style of picking,
but that soon changed once he started recording records and became popular.
His guitar playing career has been nothing short of incredible spanning six decades
and CA has done it all. Did you know that he played guitar on “Heartbreak Hotel”
by Elvis Presley? And no...it wasn't for one of the 5 billion Elvis impersonators
it was the real original guy. He also played guitar on “Your Cheating Heart” by
Pretty neat vintage music trivia huh? And besides that he has played guitar with
just about every famous guitarist you could think of at one time or another. And
that list includes rock guys like Mark Knopler whom he made a record with. And
other well known luminaries such as Paul McCartney. I've seen pictures of Paul
and Chet together,on Chet Atkins youtube.
CA became a recording star when he was first signed to RCA Victor Company
in 1947. He stayed with them till the end of the 1970's then he retired.
One of the main reasons he left RCA was that they would not let him branch out
into the jazz field in his guitar playing. And yet his jazzy collaboration with
Les Paul on an album called “Chester &Lester and Guitar Monsters” was one of the
best selling albums of his entire career. And so he left RCA and signed with Columbia
Records and made a debut album with them in 1983.
Around the same time as leaving RCA he also withdrew his authorization allowing
Gretsch Guitars to use his name on their guitars. You all remember the Chet Atkins
“Gretsch Country Gentleman Guitar,” right?
At that point he began designing guitars with Gibson. So as you can see
CA was pretty fussy about whom he endorses guitars with. He also did an endorsement
with Epiphone chet Atkins.
As well as designing guitars,and having some models named after him CA
also branched out into guitar instruction. So any of you guitar pickers out there
who want one on one guitar lessons with Chet Atkins,all you have to do is order his
instructional DVDs or Video Tapes. Then you can have Chet as your teacher.
OK, were just about ready to wrap this Mr. Guitar discussion up. Here's a small tip for
you guitarists out there that are just starting to try to figure out the CA fingerstyle
playing. Here's the tip hold down two strings with the 3rd finger of your fretting hand.
Simultaneously at the same time this will make your playing more smooth and fluid.
Example...when your playing a plain C major chord on the 1st fret use the 3rd finger
to hold down the C note on the 5th string 3rd fret and the G note on the 6th string 3rd fret.
This will make the Chet 1 V alternating bass pattern real smooth and effective with
minimal finger movement.
To end this off I'll just say that CA was a phenomenal guitar player with a love for all
styles of music he even loved stride piano.Chet even made a recording of Malaguena
which has inspired a new generation of flamenco guitarists.
Thank you for all your music Mr. Atkins.
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