Personalities | Chet Atkins | Fifties | Rock
(Guitar, producer, 1924–2001)
Tennessee-born Chester Burton Atkins, whose father was a music teacher, was one of the most influential twentieth-century guitarists, and was initially influenced by the finger- and thumb-picking country-style playing of Merle Travis. Signed to RCA from 1947, he made scores of mainly instrumental albums, and in 1955 became the head of RCA’s new Nashville studio, producing artists signed to the label, and working with numerous country artists including Don Gibson, Waylon Jennings, Elvis Presley and Jim Reeves. He also produced for pop artists such as Perry Como, and was recognized by Gretsch guitars, who named their Chet Atkins Country Gentleman model after him. One of his most significant signings to RCA was successful black country singer Charley Pride, as few black acts were tolerated in Nashville. Atkins also made duet albums with notable pickers like Les Paul, Jerry Reed and Mark Knopfler (1992’s Neck And Neck).
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