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Chet studio sessions -- credits and dates

PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:45 am
by mark reinhart
I'm continuing work on my book about Chet's greatest recorded songs, and this work has led me to a question I would like to pose to everyone. Does anyone have any thoughts about where I might find the most reliable credit and date info relating to Chet's studio sessions, especially sessions after 1960? The two Bear Family CD collections have incredibly detailed session info in their accompanying books -- but those sets only cover the years 1946-1960.

The website PRAGUEFRANK'S COUNTRY MUSIC DISCOGRAPHIES has a great listing of recording sessions that Chet did through his entire career, but this listing is still not quite as detailed as the Bear Family books. For example, PRAGUEFRANK does not list backing musicians or exact dates for many sessions. Still, for the years 1960-1997 I'm thinking I will be relying very heavily on the site. But if anyone knows another source I should be using as well, please let me know.

I assume that RCA's actual studio logs must be in existence somewhere, but I don't know where. If anyone has any thoughts on how I could find a way to access those logs, I'd love to hear them. By the way, I've finished my write-ups for well over 60 of Chet's greatest recorded songs, and I am feeling that this book is going to turn out to be a good one. Thanks, and happy new year to all.

Re: Chet studio sessions -- credits and dates

PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:34 am
by Norm
Paul Yandell remarked once that even the bear sessions were not 100% accurate even based, as they were, on studio logs because there is no way of knowing how much of what he did was done at home.

Re: Chet studio sessions -- credits and dates

PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:34 pm
by John C.
Hi Mark-

First, congratulations on getting a publisher for your book. As many long-time ChetBoard readers know, I tried marketing my Chet Atkins reference book to several publishers without any luck. I finally issued it as an eBook about 6 months ago.

The eBook lists all of Chet's recordings with the session musician information (including the 6 Nashville String Band albums) directly from the RCA session logs which I researched at their archives in Manhattan. There were a few sessions missing: the ones for the "Golden Guitar Magic" compilation, "Discover Japan" & for some reason, there was only 1 session sheet for the second Boston Pops LP (I think for "Galveston.") This was before CBS & RCA merged, so I did not have access to any of the Columbia LP recording dates, just through "Great Hits Of The Past." The eBook is available from Amazon & other such outlets for less than $10.

However, what Norm says is totally correct: it's assumed that after RCA went to 3-track stereo, Chet recorded his parts at his home studio at a later date. So the session dates (even though they list Chet as playing guitar) might only correspond to the dates the background tracks were recorded. There are, however, listings in my book for when the "sweetening" sessions of strings and/or horns were recorded (for the 2 "Solid Gold" LPs, for example.)

There were NOT any sheets listing when Chet recorded the "second" versions of songs for the Christmas LP, "The Other Chet Atkins," etc. Again, Chet tracked these at his home studio & no documentation was ever filed.

Good luck w/ the book! BTW, about 5 years ago, I was approached by a reissue record label that wanted to release a 4 CD 100 song box set of Chet's work. I selected songs that I felt best represented his guitar playing. I didn't want yet another reissue w/ "Boo Boo Stick Beat" on it! Sadly, the project was shelved, but it will be interesting to see how close your list matches mine.


John C.

Re: Chet studio sessions -- credits and dates

PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:17 pm
by mark reinhart
John and Norm, thanks for your thoughts. John, I've sampled your impressive work on Amazon, and I will definitely be buying a copy of your ebook for my research. (I don't have my own Kindle, but my daughter just got one for Christmas -- and she said she didn't mind if a few of Dad's books were stored on it!) When you researched the RCA studio logs in Manhattan, did you collect any backing musician info relating to Chet's sessions? I noticed that info was not included in your book

In terms of Chet re-recording guitar tracks at home, it would seem that he started that practice even before RCA went to 3-track. The Bear Family MISTER GUITAR book discusses the fact that Chet was bouncing tracks together for his recordings at his first home studio as early as 1956, two years before RCA's switch to 3-track. In my book, I make a point of noting that many of Chet's studio recordings benefitted from a great deal of undocumented home studio work.

John, I'm interested in your thoughts on "Boo Boo Stick Beat." I agree with you that the song shows up on most every Chet anthology, but I'm of the opinion that this is a good thing. It is an incredibly innovative recording since Chet uses his forerunner of the wah-wah pedal on it -- also, the recording turned out to be one of Chet's highest-charting singles. So it is definitely one of the recordings that will make it into my book. I feel it is one that it representative of the rock side of Chet's playing -- and when you examine a number of Chet's 1950s recordings, you realize that he could rock every bit as powerfully as legendary rock and roll guitar instrumentalists such as Duane Eddy and The Ventures. (Of course, we all know that there really wasn't any style of music that Chet couldn't master!)

Re: Chet studio sessions -- credits and dates

PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:56 pm
by Norm
Some of our posters were in on the Boo Boo Stick Beat recording since Chet used a visiting group of Chet Atkins Fan Club members to provide the hand clapping parts. Photos show Chet sitting with his 59 and the Standell on a high shelf

Re: Chet studio sessions -- credits and dates

PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:53 pm
by John C.
Hi Mark-

Thanks for checking out the eBook. Although it doesn't specifically mention "backing musicians," the description on the Amazon page says it contains "complete RCA recording session information." Yes, all the session players are listed just like in the Bear Family sets. I'll include a sample below.

Don't want to alienate any "Boo Boo" fans, but my choice to illustrate the early "wah wah" pedal would be "Django's Castle" since it's the first track Chet cut w/ that effect, some 3 weeks before "Boo." You are correct, "Boo" WAS Chet's biggest "pop" hit; it reached #49.

Yes, he did start "bouncing" tracks & overdubbing prior to 3-track stereo going all the way back to "One Man Boogie" in 1951. I meant that once RCA converted to 3-track stereo in the summer of '58, he was able to take the master tapes home where he had identical machines & record his parts until he was satisfied with them. I have a similar disclaimer in the eBook.

Here's a sample from the "Solid Gold '69" sessions:

August 22, 1969
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Personnel: Chet Atkins (guitar); Charlie McCoy (harmonica & vibes); Larrie Londin (drums); Norbert Putnam (bass); Pete Wade (guitar); Hargus “Pig” Robbins (piano)
*Overdub Session: September 8, 1969
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Personnel: Farrell Morris (vibes, bells & percussion); Charlie McCoy (piano & melodica); Norman Ray (baritone sax); John Duke (tenor sax & flute); George Tidwell & Donald Sheffield (trumpets); Dennis Good & Terry Williams (trombones); A. Wayne Butler (sax); Lillian Hunt, Brenton Banks, Sheldon Kurland, Albert Coleman, George Binkley, Martin Katahn, Solie Fott, Carol Walker, Doris Allen (violins); Gary Van Osdale, Marvin Chantry, Howard Carpenter & Robert Becker (violas); Byron Bach, Gary Williams, David Vanderkooi & Harold Cruthirds (cellos)
**Overdub Session: September 10, 1969
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Personnel: John Duke (tenor sax & flute); Norman Ray (tenor sax & baritone sax); Farrell Morris (percussion & conga drums); George Tidwell & Donald Sheffield (trumpets); Dennis Good & Terry Williams (trombones); A. Wayne Butler (sax); William Smith (string bass); Lillian Hunt, Brenton Banks, Sheldon Kurland, George Binkley, Martin Katahn, Carol Walker & Albert Coleman (violins); Byron Bach & Harold Cruthirds (cellos); Gary Van Osdale, Solie Fott & Marvin Chantry (violas)
***Overdub Session: September 10, 1969
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Personnel: Farrell Morris (bells & percussion); Brenton Banks, Lillian Hunt, Sheldon Kurland, George Binkley, Albert Coleman & Doris Allen (violins); Gary Williams & Harold Cruthirds (cellos); Marvin Chantry & Gary Van Osdale (violas); Jerry Haynie (French horn)

***Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet

***Both Sides Now

*Son Of A Preacher Man

**Folsom Prison Blues



Re: Chet studio sessions -- credits and dates

PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:13 am
by mark reinhart
John -- WOW! This sample shows me that your ebook is exactly what I'm looking for -- it will definitely be one of the primary sources for my work! When I looked at the opening pages of the book on Amazon, I didn't realize that your session info was so detailed.

I love the thoughts relating to "Boo Boo" that you laid out in your last post. And I'm happy to tell you that we seem to have similar opinions about Chet's best work -- like "Boo Boo," "Django's Castle" will be discussed in detail in my book. Thanks again for your thoughts, and I can't wait to dive into your ebook.