Friday, October 16, 2009
Jango Song Of The Day-Chet Atkins
Album: The Essential Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins was one of the all time greats of the guitar. And along with Owen Bradley, he was one of the most important country music producers in the 50s & 60s. Mister Sandman was his first chart hit as a solo artist in 1954. He was born June 20, 1924 in Luttrell, TN. Though Atkins was a big jazz fan, he acknowledged that legendary country music guitarist Merle Travis was his biggest influence. He started playing professionally in 1942 and made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1946 as a member of Red Foley's band. He had recorded some singles for Bullet Records. Springfield, MO radio station executive Si Siman liked Atkins and convinced RCA Records Nashville head of A & R Steve Shoales to sign him. Atkins started recording and doing session work for RCA and also continued to perform on radio. He sang on his early recordings but Shoales told him to stick to the guitar. Mister Sandman was a big pop hit for The Chordettes in 1954 and Atkins instrumental version reached #13 on the country chart. Atkins also charted with his duet with Hank Snow called Silver Bell. His albums started to sell a bit. When Shoales left to go to New York to take over RCA's entire A & R department, he put Atkins in charge of RCA's Nashville A & R department. Atkins proved that he had a great ear for talent by producing artists like Jim Reeves and Don Gibson with several hits crossing over to the pop charts. Other artist Atkins brought to RCA included Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Bobby Bare, Jerry Reed and John Hartford. He also continued to record his own albums and had his biggest hit in 1965 with Yakety Axe, his guitar version of the Boots Randolph hit Yakety Sax. Chet Atkins retired from producing after a cancer scare in 1973. He wanted to record jazz but RCA resisted that and Atkins left for Columbia in 1982. He continued to have success recording with artists like Mark Knopfler and Suzy Bogguss. This comp is a good intro to his music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1973 and the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002. Chet Atkins died on June 30, 2001 at age 77. His influence as a musician and producer is immeasurable. Here's Chet Atkins performing Mister Sandman in 1954.