Known for movies

Short Info

DiedJune 30, 2001, Nashville, Tennessee, United States
SpouseLeona Johnson
FactWon 14 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.

Chet Atkins was born in Luttrell, Tennessee, on June 20, 1924. His parents were James and Ida Atkins. He had two brothers, Roy and Clarence, and two sisters, Florence and Mae. His father was a barber and his mother was a housewife. Atkins was educated in the public schools of Knoxville, Tennessee. He began playing the guitar at the age of eight.

He was influenced by the music of Merle Travis, Django Reinhardt, and Les Paul. Atkins’s first professional gig was with the Grand Ole Opry in 1949. He soon became one of the most popular and influential guitarists in country music. In 1957, he released his first solo album, “Chet Atkins in Three Dimensions. ” It was a critical and commercial success.

Atkins’s signature style was a blend of country, jazz, and pop. He recorded over 60 albums and won 14 Grammy Awards. Atkins died of cancer on June 30, 2001, at the age of 77.

General Info

Full NameChet Atkins
DiedJune 30, 2001, Nashville, Tennessee, United States
ProfessionGuitarist, Singer, Record producer, Songwriter, Session musician, Yakety Sax, I'll See You in My Dreams, Mister Sandman


SpouseLeona Johnson
ChildrenMerle Atkins Russell
ParentsIda Sharp, James Arley Atkins, Yakety Sax, I'll See You in My Dreams, Mister Sandman


AwardsGrammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance, Country Music Association Award for Instrumentalist of the Year, Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals, Country Music Association Award for Musician of the Year, Billboard Music Century Award...
Music GroupsThe Carter Sisters
NominationsGrammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, Country Music Association Award for Album of the Year, Country Music Association Award for Vocal Event of the Year, Yakety Sax, I'll See You in My Dreams, Mister Sandman
MoviesChet Atkins: A Life in Music, A Tribute to Chet Atkins, Webb Pierce & Chet Atkins, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed: In Concert, Chet Atkins: Rare Performances 1955-1975, Hank Williams: In the Hank Williams Tradition, Guitar Odyssey: Wired for Sound
TV ShowsJethro And Friends

Social profile links


1I was more interested in my guitar than the fiddle and I'd fool around practicing whenever I could. One time the radio-station boss heard me playing my guitar in the back seat of his car. He told me to throw away the fiddle for good and he'd give me a job playing guitar.
2Once when I was on a cruise ship I was practicing on deck and drew a little crowd. When I was done, one lady told me "You're good but you're no Chet Atkins."
3Everything I've ever done was out of fear of being mediocre.
4[on producing records with Jim Reeves, aka "Gentleman Jim", who joined RCA in 1955 after recording several years for Abbott Records] When I first met and started working with him, he was singing too high. He was a great baritone, but he wasn't a very good tenor. I always tried to keep him down in a low key, because when he did that, he sounded wonderful to me. He knew I liked it when he sang in that low key, but occasionally he'd kid me a little and pitch it up a little too high.
5[on the first time he heard Hank Garland] I was in Knoxville, and I heard this chorus. I don't recall the artist now, but I remember then that I thought it was the greatest guitar chorus I'd ever heard, so I checked around and found out it was Hank Garland who played it.
6Hank Garland was very outspoken and he had a lot of ideas. He didn't take any talk from any producer. If they said something smart to him, his face would get real red and he'd say something back. But he was such a good musician that everyone had a terrible amount of respect for him, so nobody stepped on his toes. He could only help you: he was so good, he could never hurt you.
7I realized that what I liked, the public would like, too, 'cause I'm kind of square.
8Years from now, after I'm gone, someone will listen to what I've done and know I was here. They may not know or care who I was, but they'll hear my guitars speaking for me.


1Designed electric guitars for the Gretsch Company, including the one George Harrison played the first two times The Beatles performed on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show, "The Chet Atkins Country Gentleman". That guitar, among others he designed for Gretsch, are still available today.
2Covered the song "Sugarfoot Rag" by Hank Garland, for his album "Guitar Country" (1964)
3Was a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator with the call sign W4CGP. His call is now owned by a young musician who is a big admirer of the late star.
4Brother of singer/radio personality Jim Atkins.
5Was the brother-in-law of Jethro of the country-music comedy duo Homer and Jethro.
6Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 (under the category Side-Men).
7Daughter, Merle (named after Merle Travis), born 1947.
8Recorded 100+ albums.
9Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973, at age 49.
10Won 14 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.
11Played guitar on many classic recordings, such as Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel", Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart", and the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up, Little Susie".
12Country music guitarist and record company executive.
135th cousin thrice-removed of Scott Trimble.



Wild2014/Iwriter: "How's the World Treating You"
Dolly: A Collection of Hits & Duets2014Video performer: "I Can't Stop Loving You"
Some Jerk with a Camera2012TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
Halloween Season2010Short performer: "Mr. Sandman"
Country's Greatest Stars Live: Vol. 12010Video performer: "Winter Walking"
Katastrofin aineksia2008Documentary performer: "Mr.Sandman"
Opry Video Classics: The Hall of Fame2007Video performer: "Yakety Axe"
American Masters2007TV Series documentary 1 episode
Best of Country Live!2006Video performer: "Poor People of Paris" La Goualante du Pauvre Jean
Surviving Christmas2004performer: "Jingle Bell Rock"
Cold Case2004TV Series writer - 1 episode
Michael1996arranger: "Ave Maria; Op.52, No.6" 1825 / performer: "Young Thing" 1994, "Ave Maria; Op.52, No.6" 1825, "Sweet Dreams" 1955, "Dream" 1944 / producer: "Young Thing" 1994, "Ave Maria; Op.52, No.6" 1825, "Dream" 1944 / writer: "Young Thing" 1994
Fly Away Home1996performer: "Yakety Axe"
Neil Diamond: Under a Tennessee Moon1996TV Special documentary "Blue Highway"
Grand Ole Opry 70th Anniversary1996TV Special performer: "Oh, Lonesome Me"
Ralph Emery on the Record1994TV Series performer - 1 episode
Josh and S.A.M.1993performer: "Hot Mocking Bird"
Dolly1988TV Series performer - 1 episode
Stroszek1977performer: "On the Way Down to Phoenix", "The Last Thing on My Mind" / writer: "On the Way Down to Phoenix"
9th Annual Country Music Association Awards1975TV Special performer: "Bicentennial Medley"
In Concert1975TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Porter Wagoner ShowTV Series performer - 2 episodes, 1973 - 1974 writer - 1 episode, 1973
The Partridge FamilyTV Series lyrics - 1 episode, 1973 music - 1 episode, 1973
The Johnny Cash Show1970-1971TV Series performer - 2 episodes
Mondo Trasho1969performer: "Oh Lonesome Me"
The Best on Record1968TV Special performer: "Battle Hymn Of The Republic"
The Jimmy Dean Show1964TV Series performer - 1 episode
Country Style, U.S.A.TV Series short writer - 1 episode, 1959 performer - 1 episode, 1959
Grand Ole Opry1956TV Series performer - 1 episode


Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story1995TV MovieChet Atkins
Nashville 991977TV Series


About Us2006TV Series documentary 1 episode


Mark Knopfler: A Life in Songs2011TV Movie documentary archive - as Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player


Chet Atkins: A Life in Music2000TV MovieHimself
The Genius of Lenny Breau1999Documentary
In Dreams: The Roy Orbison Story1999TV Movie documentaryHimself
Elvis: His Life and Times1997TV Special
George Winston: Seasons in Concert1996VideoHimself
America's Music: The Roots of Country1996TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Late Night with Conan O'Brien1996TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Grand Ole Opry Musical Salute to Minnie Pearl1996TV MovieHimself
An Evening of Country Greats: A Hall of Fame Celebration1996TV SpecialHimself
The Life and Times of the Everly Brothers1996TV Movie documentaryHimself
Neil Diamond: Under a Tennessee Moon1996TV Special documentaryHimself - Guest Artist
Grand Ole Opry 70th Anniversary1996TV SpecialHimself
Lost in Music1995TV Series documentaryHimself
Elvis: The Tribute1994TV Movie documentaryHimself - Performer
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno1994TV SeriesHimself
Ralph Emery on the Record1994TV SeriesHimself
The Roots of Country: Nashville Celebrates the Ryman1994TV SpecialHimself
Austin City Limits1993TV Series documentaryHimself
Webb Pierce and Chet Atkins1991Video documentaryHimself
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts1991TV SpecialHimself
Grand Ole Opry 65th Anniversary1991TV SpecialHimself
Guitar1991Video documentaryChet Atkins
An All Star Salute to Country Music1990TV MovieHimself
The Pat Sajak Show1989TV SeriesHimself
A Prairie Home Companion: The Second Annual Farewell Performance1988TV MovieHimself
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour1988TV SeriesHimself
Dolly1988TV SeriesHimself
Cinemax Sessions1987TV SeriesHimself
The Secret Policeman's Third Ball1987DocumentaryHimself
Presley1987TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Grand Ole Opry 60th Anniversary1986TV MovieHimself
Elvis: Memories1985Video documentary
Arena1984TV Series documentaryHimself
Country Comes Home1982TV Special
Roy Acuff... 50 Years the King of Country Music1982TV SpecialHimself
Nashville on the Road1981TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Today1957-1978TV SeriesHimself
50 Years of Country Music1978TV MovieHimself
The Val Doonican Music Show1977TV SeriesHimself
Spotlight1977TV SeriesHimself
That's Country1977Himself
Ann-Margret: Rhinestone Cowgirl1977TV MovieHimself
The 19th Annual Grammy Awards1977TV SpecialHimself
Dinah!1974-1976TV SeriesHimself
Numéro 11975TV SeriesHimself
9th Annual Country Music Association Awards1975TV SpecialHimself - Performer
In Concert1975TV SeriesHimself
Hee Haw1974TV SeriesHimself - Guest
8th Annual Country Music Association Awards1974TV SpecialHimself - Presenter
The Porter Wagoner Show1973-1974TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Dean Martin Presents Music Country1973TV SeriesHimself
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson1963-1973TV SeriesHimself / Himself - Guest
The Jerry Reed When You're Hot You're Hot Hour1972TV SeriesHimself
The David Frost Show1971TV SeriesHimself
The Kraft Music Hall1968-1971TV SeriesHimself
The Johnny Cash Show1969-1971TV SeriesHimself - Guitarist / Himself
Evening at Pops1970TV Series documentaryHimself
The Ed Sullivan Show1970TV SeriesHimself - Guitarist
This Is Tom Jones1969TV Series documentaryHimself
The Joey Bishop Show1968TV SeriesHimself
The Best on Record1968TV SpecialHimself
Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall1967TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Middle West Show1965TV MovieHimself
The Jimmy Dean Show1964TV SeriesHimself / Himself - Guitarist
Western-Songs 'Marke Nashville'1964TV SeriesHimself - Guitar player
Country Style, U.S.A.1959TV Series shortHimself - Guitarist
Grand Ole Opry1956TV SeriesHimself - Guitarist
Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour1954TV SeriesHimself
The Eddy Arnold Show1952TV SeriesHimself

Archive Footage

Dolly: A Collection of Hits & Duets2014VideoHimself - Performer
The Winding Stream2014DocumentaryHimself
Mark Knopfler: A Life in Songs2011TV Movie documentaryHimself - Guitar
Country's Greatest Stars Live: Vol. 12010VideoHimself
Crook & Chase2009TV SeriesHimself
Opry Video Classics: The Hall of Fame2007VideoHimself
Impact: Songs That Changed the World2007TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Best of Country Live!2006VideoHimself
Grand Ole Opry's Vintage Classics2005TV MovieHimself
The Porter Wagoner Show: Collectors Series, Vol. 12001VideoHimself


Nominated Awards

1989ACECableACE AwardsPerformance in a Music SpecialCinemax Sessions (1986)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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