Chet Atkins

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Chester Burton Atkins (June 20, 1924 – June 30, 2001), better known as Chet Atkins, was an American guitarist and record producer who created, along with Owen Bradley, the smoother country music style known as the Nashville sound, which expanded country's appeal to adult pop music fans as well.

Atkins's picking style, inspired by Merle Travis, Django Reinhardt, George Barnes and Les Paul, brought him admirers within and outside the country scene, both in the United States and internationally. Atkins produced records for Perry Como, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Eddy Arnold, Don Gibson, Jim Reeves, Jerry Reed, Skeeter Davis, Connie Smith, Waylon Jennings and others.

Among many honors, Atkins received 14 Grammy Awards as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, nine Country Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year awards, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Contents

Biography

Childhood and early life

Chet Atkins was born on June 20, 1924, in Luttrell, Tennessee, near Clinch Mountain, and grew up with his mother, two brothers and a sister—he was the youngest. His parents divorced when he was six. He started out on the ukulele, later moving on to the fiddle, but traded his brother Lowell an old pistol and some chores for a guitar when he was nine.[1] He stated in his 1974 autobiography, "We were so poor and everybody around us was so poor that it was the forties before anyone even knew there had been a depression." Forced to relocate to Fortson, Georgia to live with his father due to a near-fatal asthma condition, Atkins was a sensitive youth who made music his obsession. Because of his illness, he was forced to sleep in a straight-back chair in order to breathe comfortably. On those nights, he would play his guitar until he fell asleep holding it, a habit which lasted his whole life.[2] While living in Fortson, he attended historic Mountain Hill School. He would return in the 1990s to play a series of charity concerts to save the school from demolition.[citation needed]

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