November 28th, 2015

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Chet Atkins was one of my first guitar heroes. I heard him play “Poor People of Paris” live on Grand Ole Opry and was amazed at what I heard. The way he played the bass notes with his thumb pick while playing the melody really impressed me. On one of his albums, he played Yankee Doodle Dandy and Dixie at the same time. I spent a lot of time learning how to play those songs together but I did it. Atkins’ signature picking style was inspired by Merle Travis. Merle was the first one I heard playing that style.

Chet Atkins in the recording studio

Chet Atkins






When I was 14, I heard Chet play a live concert at Grinnell’s in Detroit. He sounded great as usual. As a young guitarist, I was interested in the action he used on his guitar. (How high the strings were above the frets on the neck) so I touched the neck of his guitar which was on a stand. Chet came over and told me not to touch his guitar. He said it in a rude manner. I wish he had asked me why I was touching his guitar so we could have had a conversation. I think that was when I stopped being a fan. I still bought an album he did in 1976 with Les Paul. It was called “Chester and Lester” They were both great players and sounded great on the album.

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Dennis Coffey