I probably have one of the luckiest “meeting Chet” stories. Like millions
of musicians around the world, I have been inspired and influenced by Chet,
not just musically, but also in terms of his multifaceted career as a
producer, record executive, and a champion of talented artists. I certainly
hoped I might get to work with him one day, but when it happened, no one was
more surprised than me!
Out of the blue one day in 1994, I got a call from Chet’s manager at the
time, Fred Kewley, who asked me, What are you doing this weekend? Chet is
doing a TV special in Austin, and he needs a bass player. David Hungate, (a
great studio bassist who produced a number of wonderful records for Chet,
including (Sails), slipped and fell down a hill in his yard, and broke his
ankle. He can’t make the trip - are you interested?
After I picked myself up off the floor, I couldn’t say Yes! fast
enough. The slight catch was that I had some recording sessions to do and
wouldn’t be able to get to Austin until the day before the show. Hungate had
suggested me for the job, and had assured Chet I would be prepared and do a
good job, but I knew I would definitely be under some major pressure to live
up to Dave’s recommendation on such short notice.
When I got to Austin, I was driven immediately to the theater, where the
first rehearsal was already in progress. I shook Chet’s hand, set up my gear
and got to work. I had prepared myself as much as possible, but was still
pretty nervous, as there was a lot of songs to play, and everyone else on the
gig had worked with Chet before. Within a couple of tunes, Chet turned to me,
smiled and said, That sounds good, referring to my electric upright bass,
and you do too. What a relief!
As the rehearsal progressed, and I got more comfortable, I was able to
listen and appreciate not only the magic of Chet’s playing, but enjoy his
great sense of humor and natural humility. As the guest artists, including
Earl Klugh, Eric Johnson, Steve Wariner, Johnny Gimble, and Suzy Boggus ran
their numbers with Chet, I realized that love and respect for Chet Atkins
truly is a universal phenomenon. It was a long and grueling day of
rehearsals, but he held up really well under the circumstances and made
everyone else feel good about their contributions.
The next day’s taping was another long day, but Chet hung in there
without complaint and played many beautiful guitar licks throughout the show.
For me, one of the highlights was playing "Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues"
with Chet and Earl Klugh - their version was one of my favorite records over
20 years ago when I first moved to town. At the end of the show, he made a
special point of singling me out and told the audience that we had just met
and that I was doing a heck of a job. I couldn’t have been more proud, and
I’m very happy to say that Chet and I have spent quite a lot of time together
since. And I owe it all to the hill in David Hungate’s yard - Thanks for the
- Dave Pomeroy
The FULL LIST of "When I Met Chet" stories