July 29, 2021

Chet Atkins, the architect of the Nashville sound

Chet Atkins, Nashville Sound Architect Photo NA.

Chet Atkins wrote a good part of the history of the contemporary music. The American guitarist and producer achieved his greatest recognition as one of the greatest figures in country music and one of the creators of the “sonido Nashville”, a softer and quieter subgenre that appeared in the late 1950s.

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There was on June 20, 1924 in Lutterell, United States, and he grew up in a musical environment, since his father taught piano and his brother was a guitarist. Perhaps that was what led him to experiment with music at the age of five, with a broken ukulele that he had repaired with the materials of an old mosquito net. Over time, curiosity led him to try the violin, until at the age of nine he had his first guitar, the instrument that would take him to the top in his career as a musician.

He learned to play in a self-taught way and during his adolescence, after moving to Georgia for the health of his father, he adopted the habit of playing at night until he fell asleep. This is how he became an outstanding guitarist when he was still in school.

Influenced by Merle Travis, Les Paul and Django Reinhardt, he developed different techniques on the strings that led him to have his own style. He began his career in 1942, after abandoning his studies, on WNOX, the Knoxville radio station, where he played violin and guitar with singer Bill Carlisle and comedian Archie Campbell.

After going through other stations, in 1946 he recorded his first single, “Guitar Blues”, and began giving shows with his group, Chester Atkins and The All Star Hillbillies. And his talent did not go unnoticed, not only for his ability as a guitarist, but for his ability to fuse country with other genres such as jazz, rock and pop, which is why he was hired by RCA (Radio Corporation of America) as a session musician and began to travel a long journey in which he recorded more than a hundred instrumental albums and received 14 Grammy Awards.

This is how He came to work with great figures of his time such as Hank Williams, Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley. And as a producer, he accompanied Dolly Parton, Dottie West, Waylon Jenning, Willie Nelson, Eddy Arnold and Perry Como. And in both the 1950s and the 1960s he visited the most famous television shows, which is why It highlights him as one of those responsible for the popularity of country music at that time, not only in the United States, but his music traveled all over the world.

Sus trabajos más destacados son : “A Session with Chet Atkins” (1954), “Chet Atkins in Three Dimensions” (1955), “Chet Atkins at Home” (1957), “Chet Atkins in Hollywood” (1957), “Hum & Strum along with Chet atkins” (1959), “Chet Atkins’ Workshop” (1960), “The Most Popular Guitar” (1961), “Christmas with Chet Atkins” (1961), “Chet Atkins Plays Back Home Hymns” (1962), “Chet Picks on the Pops” (1969), “Me and Jerry” (1970), “Chet, Floyd and Boots” (1971), “Me and Chet” (1972), “Picks on Jerry Reed” (1974), “The Night Atlanta Burned” (1975), “Chet Atkins Goes to the Movies” (1976), “Guitar Monsters” (1978), “East Tennessee” (1983), “Work It Out With Chet Atkins C.G.P.” (1983), “Stay Tuned” (1985), “C.G.P.” (1988), “Read My Licks” (1994), “Almost Alone” (1996), “The Day Finger Pickers” y “Took Over The World” (1997).

On June 30, 2001, the distinguished guitarist passed away at his home in Nashville, at the age of 77, as a result of a long illness. In 1973 he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and in 1997, a brain tumor, and while undergoing various treatments to improve his health, he never stopped playing. A year after his death, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Walk of Fame as one of the “architects of the Nashville sound.” And in 2009 he was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame, at a ceremony in Nashville in recognition of his legacy.