A Chet Story

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A Chet Story

Postby dgallent » Sat Jun 28, 2014 3:01 pm

I stopped by to drop off some photos I had made during the taping of Read My Licks in Austin.

Chet was about to leave for lunch and invited me to go with him and Clarisa (secretary). We dined at Mack’s (Café on the Corner from Sawyer Brown Song). As we walked in the place was full of singers, songwriters and other from music business. A hush crept across the room as mouths dropped at the sight of Chet. Chet nodded and we took our place at a table near the back of the room. Ever so respectful, no one approached Chet and we left as we had come in (with Chet fighting me for the tab)….he won.

Upon arriving back at his office, we walked in the rear entrance from his parking lot and the phone was ringing…both lines lit up. Chet picked up one while Clarissa got the other and then there was this banging on the front door. I thought it might have been a homeless person but Chet motioned for me to go open the door and check them out.
The front of his office faced I believe 19th Avenue. The front door was rarely used.
I opened the door and this really big guy was standing there with a guitar case with a taxi waiting at the curb. He spoke very softly and asked if Chet could autograph his guitar. I looked at Chet and he motioned to bring the guy into the office.

Once inside, the guy explained he was in a touring Broadway play, Crazy for You, which was playing in Nashville. I was familiar with the musical about Gershwin music having seen it in New York on opening night.
Chet got off the phone and walked over and shook hands with the actor. He then opened his guitar case and pulled out a really old green Gretsch, Chet Model. Watching Chet pick up a guitar…any guitar…was like watching a Master Violinist pick up a Stradivarius. Chet loved the guitar and gave all us a history of each feature of the guitar and even knew who made it at the factory. Chet reached into his pocket for a “thumber” and played one of his medleys. It was like none of us were in the room but a man at one with an instrument. The young actor broke into a huge grin and took some photos. Chet was oblivious to everything but the guitar. Chet would get this look on his face with almost a subtle grin. He hunched over the guitar like they were made to fit each other.

When he finished playing, Chet pulled out a sharpie and autographed it telling the young man, laughing, he was unsure if that would make the guitar more valuable or less. Chet then reached into a drawer to fetch a rag and wiped the autograph off the guitar. He turned to the actor and said “I can damn sure write better than that” while re-signing the guitar “Chet Atkins CGP”.

This was who Chet Atkins was…it was a moment in that young man’s life he will never forget and something Chet did not have to do…but that was Chet Atkins.

I would hope the spirit of this man’s kindness and his music would once again be what this forum is about.
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Re: A Chet Story

Postby Spadaro Paolo » Sat Jun 28, 2014 3:15 pm

Wonderful story.

Paolo spadaro
Spadaro Paolo
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Re: A Chet Story

Postby Eddie Estes » Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:29 pm

Yep the difference I saw between Chet and so many musicians famous and not famous is he had no big ego and if anyone could justify having a big ego it was Chet.
I talked to him at CAAS one year and I was really nervous but he made me feel like he knew me. Talked about where I was from and he hoped I had a good time.
So many in the music business act like they are doing you a favor to talk to you.
Chet was the real deal!
Eddie Estes
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Re: A Chet Story

Postby Roger Pratt » Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:41 pm

Nice story Don!!
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Re: A Chet Story

Postby Ray Bohlken » Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:20 am

I sure enjoyed this story. It shows what a great person Chet was. That has come through so many times here from stories recounted by people who knew him well and people who barely knew him. I used to enjoy those "Chat With Chet" sessions at the CAAS. He was so relaxed and natural and likeable. I was a little too shy to actually ask a question there. I did get to talk with him briefly at the 1991 convention and got a picture of us taken. He was just so nice and personable.
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