Tag Archives: Chet Atkins
Posted: January 2, 2012
As 2011 wound down, Rolling Stone compiled a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and George Harrison stands at No. 11 among the prolific list of virtuoso musicians.
In the early-December issue of the magazine, Tom Petty offered Harrison high praise.
“George Harrison and I were once in a car and the Beatles song ‘You Can’t Do That‘ came on, with that great riff in the beginning on the 12-string. He goes, ‘I came up with that.’ And I said, ‘Really? How?’ He said, ‘I was just standing there and thought, “I’ve got to do something!’
“That pretty much sums him up. He just had a way of getting right to the business, of finding the right thing to play. That was part of that Beatles magic – they all seemed to find the right thing to play.”
Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page earned the top three slots on the list, with Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Eddie Van Halen, Duane Allman and Pete Townshend rounding out the top 10.
Gretsch signature artists Chet Atkins and Bo Diddley came in at Nos. 21 and 27, respectively.
“His style was outrageous,” Keith Richards told RS of Diddley; it suggested “that the kind of music we loved didn’t just come from Mississippi. It was coming from somewhere else.”
“I think he influenced everybody who picked up a guitar,” Duane Eddy said of Atkins to Rolling Stone.
Eddy himself was also honored on this list, coming in at No. 64.
“If there was any doubt left in the late 1950s that the guitar – not the saxophone – was rock & roll’s essential lead instrument, Duane Eddy settled the argument: See his 1958 single ‘Rebel Rouser,’ curled with country twang and rippling with tremolo,” noted the music mag of the Gretsch signature artist.
For the full list, click here.
Posted: December 21, 2011
The latest issue of Premier Guitar takes a look inside the Chet Atkins exhibit that is currently open at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
While the Grammy Awards, photos and instruments are all impressive, the magazine calls Atkins’ legendary workbench a highlight.
“It’s full of vacuum tubes, pickups, homemade effects boxes, snapshots, and a soldering iron,” writes Craig Havighurst. ”It looks like the inveterate tinkerer just stepped out of the room. It’s a microlevel look at an outsized legacy.”
“This prototype had a carved top and back, in the traditional style. Fred W. Gretsch, current president of the company and great grandson of its founder, says the model quickly took an interesting turn toward a more rigid top and back to offer a more stable mounting for the pickups. ‘Plywood tops and backs with electric guitars made a lot more sense,’ Gretsch says. ‘And we were doing plywood drums and had been doing them since the late ’20s and we had done a lot of refinements in the early ’50s. So we tried out some plywood tops and backs with Chet and he dug the tone. So we migrated to plywood on this model.’
“Introducing the model just as Chet first hit as a recording artist with ‘Mr. Sandman,’ Gretsch couldn’t have timed it better. This guitar inaugurated a 25-year relationship between artist and company.”
Meanwhile, Havighurst recently contributed another piece about Atkins to NPR.
In it, he quotes Country star Steve Wariner, a longtime Atkins friend and protege. Count Wariner among those wowed by the Atkins exhibit, especially the workbench.
“I had goose bumps,” Wariner says. “It’s exactly the way it looked at his house when you walked into his control room.”
For more information about the Chet Atkins exhibit, which is open until June of 2012, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame’s official website.
Posted: November 22, 2011
Legendary guitarist Paul Yandell, known for his longtime rhythm role alongside Chet Atkins, passed away Monday morning in Hendersonville, Tenn., following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Yandell was Atkins’ right-hand man for over 25 years, but he has also played on records from Dolly Parton, George Straight, Perry Como, Steve Wariner, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Everly Brothers.
The Kentucky native moved to Nashville in 1955 and began recording as a professional with the Louvin Brothers.
Following a stint in the Army, Yandell recorded primarily with Kitty Wells and Johnnie Wright, spent a year with George Hamilton IV, and then began an incredible run with Atkins in 1975 that lasted until Atkins’ death in 2001.
“Nobody was closer to [Atkins] than Paul,” Atkins’ daughter, Merle Atkins Russell, told The Tennessean. ”He was literally a lifelong friend, his right-hand man and a very dear friend off the stage.”
Yandell recorded five solo albums and most recently appeared on Wariner’s latest record, Guitar Laboratory, which was released earlier this year.
After Atkins’ death, Yandell became the prime source of information on Atkins’ techniques and equipment, even working with Gretsch to create guitars with Atkins’ favorite specs.
In the video below, Yandell and Wariner perform for the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society in 2010:
Yandell’s official website will post details about the arrangements when they are available.
Posted: August 12, 2011
Photos by Donn Jones Photography
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrated the grand opening of the Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibit on Wednesday night with a private reception. Approximately 200 guests, including Fred Gretsch, Atkins’ daughter Merle Russell, Duane Eddy and James Burton, were warmly greeted by museum director Kyle Young.
“Chet was always a supportive friend of this institution,” he said. “He was also one of country music’s ultimate renaissance men, one of the greatest instrumentalists in American music history, and a true musical savant. We are truly honored to tell his story, one we know will resonate with country fans old and new.”
The evening included memorable musical performances by award-winning thumbpicker Ben Hall and world-class guitar-slinger Steve Wariner, who received official “C.G.P.” status even from Atkins in 1997.
Gretsch Company president Fred Gretsch also addressed the crowd, sharing details of Atkins’ history with their guitar company. Gretsch also brought onstage Atkins’ teary-eyed friend, Paul Yandell.
At the conclusion of the program, guests were invited to take an exclusive advance tour of the Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player exhibition which officially opens to the public on Friday, August 12.
The Gretsch Company joins the Great American Country Television Network as proud supporters of the new exhibit, which is scheduled to run through June 11, 2012. The exhibition will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout its duration.
For details on this grand opening weekend events, click here.
Posted: July 18, 2011
That Great Gretsch Sound, via Chet “style” finger pickin’, echoed throughout the ballrooms, hallways and lobby at the beautiful Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., from July 13-16, 2011 during the 27th Annual “CAAS” (Chet Atkins Appreciation Society) convention.
Folks from around the globe once again gathered to pay homage to Chester Burton Atkins (B: June 20, 1924 – D: June 30, 2001), better known as Chet Atkins for the celebrated annual event. Gretsch Guitars and local Gretsch dealer, Broadway Sound (Knoxville, Tenn.), had a magnificent display honoring Atkins with his signature model Gretsch guitars, rare vintage photos & memorabilia. The Gretsch Company president Fred Gretsch was also on hand to meet & greet attendees.
In recognition of a special exhibit honoring Atkins at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville from August 11, 2011 thru June 2012, Gretsch unveiled the G6122-1959 “Chet Atkins HALL OF FAME Country Gentleman” guitar at this year’s CAAS event.
Check out the videos below from the event, including performances and a few words from Gretsch product specialist Joe Carducci and Fred Gretsch …