Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

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Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby Larry Lenhart » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:38 pm

I really enjoy reading about the great guitar players...i have 2 copies of Chets book...paperback and hard back. I have searched the internet and cant find where there was ever a biography on Merle Travis. I have the book In Search of My Father, but thats really not what I am looking for. I also have the bios on him from the rare performance dvds...I am also assuming that the 80 page booklet in the Bear Family Box set would be closest to what I am looking for. Any help would be appreciated...thanks !
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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby thenorm » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:55 pm

Pat Travis Etherly wrote two books, one of which was 'In Search Of My Father' and as you say it isn't the kind of thing you're looking for.

I've not seen the Bear Family book but I kinda doubt a definitive book will ever be written about Merle. He had a lot of demons and personal issues to deal with and the people who knew him and are able to talk about him don't seem to be motivated to see such a biography written. It may be that such a biography might hurt more folks than it helps. Most of his contemporaries who would be able to contribute to such a book are already gone.

I've not heard of anyone taking up the challenge and as I already said, I don't think we will.

too bad.
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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby Tompicks » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:41 pm

I have the book by Pat Travis Eatherly, "A Scrapbook of my Daddy" which I really love. It's by no mean an exhaustive biography but it includes some great letters, cartoons and photos that really showcase what a unique talent Merle was. I met Pat at CAAS in 2000 and really enjoyed speaking with her about Travis and hearing some personal memories from her. She passed away a few years ago I believe.
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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby RandeDager » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:55 pm

What would Thom Bresh write about Merle?

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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby BillB » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:41 am

I was thinking the same thing as you, Rande. I'd love to hear what Thom would have to say. If someone were to gather as much info about Travis that was available, and then have Thom use that along with his own knowledge, it might make for a pretty nice book. I would think that Thom knows enough about Travis's guitars to make that part interesting as well. Shoot, Thom's life has probably been interesting enough for a book as well.

Just my two thumbpicks worth,

Bill B.
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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby RandyBuckner » Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:01 pm

Larry -

The Bear Family booklet is pretty good, it talks about Merle's music, as well as some of his demons. The problem is that it stops in 1955.

As for stuff that Merle himself has written, or otherwise, look for old Guitar World magazines circa 1979 - 1981. Merle wrote articles talking about who influenced him, as well as stuff about Chet, Maphis, Roy Lanham, and others. There is an excellent four part series in a music journal called "Old Time Music" beginning in the summer of 1981 where Merle talks to Mark Humphrey about his life and career. Finally, there is the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Quarterly, numbers 54 & 55, that contain articles that Merle wrote concerning his life and career. The Center for Popular Music at MTSU houses the JEMF archives, and you can order reprints of the quarterly here: http://popmusic.mtsu.edu/jemfdoc.htm. To see pictures of Merle, you can check out the Merle Travis fan page on facebook.

Hope this helps,

Randy
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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby Larry Lenhart » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:36 pm

Very useful information Randy ...thanks a lot ! I will definately check out these resources that you have mentioned.
There is a lot of people on this forum with a lot of information ....thanks for sharing !
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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby Gary Smith » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:09 pm

I have both of Pat Eatherly's books on Merle, I happen to love both of them.

"in search of my father" can be found on Amazon and may "A scrapbook of my Daddy" is also available.

I'd recommend both of them, I got them when Pat was still alive, she autographed one for me and we wrote back and forth for a while after that. A fine lady she was.

I think I once heard that Thom didn't want to write a book on Merle, so I wouldn't expect to see anything along that line from him. However the girls, Cindy and Merlene haven't said anything one way or the other as far as I can tell, if they would ever write a book. We can always hope they might do a book together.
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Re: Is there a bio book on Merle Travis ?

Postby thenorm » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:43 pm

A book by a biographer of some sort would be better. Family books tend to either do a hatchet job or go the other way and cover up painful interludes and would probably leave off details on specific instruments, details we love to immerse ourselves into.

Marketability is a big issue. I'm not sure how well guitarist biographies sell. People on guitar forums seem to think they sell well but, truth be told, we're a small market and those who might buy a book about one guitarist might not buy one about another and publishers are having a hard time now what with the internet seriously affecting print media. Paper publishing is expensive and a gamble.
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