Over the years, some of Chet Atkins’ most acclaimed records were his duets with other guitarists, including Hank Snow, Jerry Reed, and Doc Watson. In addition, he finally got to record with two of his idols, Merle Travis and Les Paul. These recordings combined the virtuosity and distinctive styles of each artist with an often uproarious sense of humor and spontaneity.
After leaving RCA in 1982, Chet Atkins signed with Columbia Records. His recording efforts had been curtailed significantly because of his duties with RCA, but with Columbia, he returned to his roots, awarded himself the honorary degree of Certified Guitar Player (C.G.P.), and recorded a series of well-received albums of stripped-down guitar albums. Now celebrating his 50th year as a recording artist, Chet Atkins continues as one of the most respected and honored musicians in popular music. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973. On the plaque, it states that Chet Atkins is “a musician’s musician and a gentleman’s gentleman.” But no title could be more appropriate for Chet Atkins than the one pinned on him in the 1950s: “Mister Guitar.”
If not for the investigations of two traveling folklorists, it is possible that Doc Watson would have spent the rest of his life playing guitar and singing in the towns of the
Photo by David Gahr