Many people in the country world have nicknames including The Possum, The Man In Black, Bocephus, and Whisperin’ Bill. The legendary Chet Atkins was so talented and smooth, he had two – “Mr. Guitar” and “The Country Gentleman”.
He was known as “Mr. Guitar” because of the incredible skill he possessed on the musical instrument. Along with Owen Bradley and Bob Ferguson, among many others, he helped create the famed Nashville sound. He had a very distinct guitar picking style that earned him fans from all around the globe.
As well as being an extremely talented guitarist, he was also a skilled producer and worked with the likes of Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Dottie West, Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, the Everly Brothers, and more.
He is the proud owner of 14 Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, nine CMA Awards for Instrumentalist of the Year, and is an inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Musicians Hall of Fame.
There are many songs where he proves why he was given the nickname “Mr. Guitar”, so it was hard to choose just five. Take a look at our picks below!
1. “The Entertainer”
Considered a classic of the ragtime genre, “The Entertainer” was originally written by Scott Joplin for the piano in 1902, but in 1975, “Mr. Guitar” put his own spin to it for the special Legends of Country Guitar.
We can honestly say we have never heard “The Entertainer” played like this before, but we loved every second of it!
2. “Jerry’s Breakdown”
On the famed TV show Pop! Goes the Country, Atkins performed in 1975 with a man who influenced his life greatly, Jerry Reed, who happens to be one of the newest inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Together, they played “Jerry’s Breakdown”, a song from their duet album Me & Chet, which they recorded in 1972. This song, written by Reed, showed off both men’s skill on the guitar, leaving the audience in complete and total awe.
3. “Mr. Sandman”
The classic song “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes was turned into an instrumental cover in the early 1950s by none other than Mr. Guitar himself. It became his first hit single, which helped catapult his iconic career followed by “Silver Bell”, a duet with the legendary Hank Snow.
4. Medley with Mark Knopfler
Singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer and film score composer Mark Knopfler made a name for himself by scoring nine movies including The Princess Bride, Local Hero, and Cal.
At the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 1987 at the London Palladium, Knopfler and Atkins joined forces for an instrumental medley of “I’ll See You In My Dreams” followed by the John Lennon song “Imagine”. Watching two guitar legends at work is such a treat!
5. “Orange Blossom Special”
For his 1993 album, Galloping Guitar: The Early Years, Atkins included the classic song “Orange Blossom Special”. The four-disc box set included his earliest recordings from 1940-1954. Even though there are other instruments in the recording, Atkins’ guitar completely steals the show, once again solidifying the reason why we call him “Mr. Guitar”!
Which Chet Atkins song do you think proves that he is Mr. Guitar?!