Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

Scotty Moore

“I didn’t get rich, but it was better than picking cotton…”

 

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We can debate who invented rock and roll, but there is no question that it was Elvis Presley who turned it into an earth shaking phenomenon. He also did something equally revolutionary at the same time: He made the guitar the most popular instrument in the world. After Elvis, sales of pianos and accordions would never be the same.

Elvis’s role in the ascension of the guitar is somewhat overlooked now and not without reason. While it was an essential part of his act and image, it was for the most part a prop in his hands. The man responsible for the electric guitar sound that drove the kids wild was Scotty Moore. When Moore released his first solo album in 1964 with the title “The Guitar That Changed the World,” it was not overstating the case.

Chet Atkins

“I never listen to my records. I can’t stand to hear them.”

October, 1994

By phone from Chet Atkins’ Nashville office

“Simpatico” duet album and tour with Suzy Bogguss

It took me a long time to learn to appreciate Chet Atkins. Under the influence of the Gram Parsons/Clarence White-era Byrd’s “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” I risked buying my first country album — Merle Haggard and the Strangers’ “I Take A Lot of Pride In What I Am” — in ‘68 or ‘69 and slowly but surely fell in love with it. But even after I expanded my listening to Hank Williams, Bob Wills George Jones and Tammy Wynette, I still had no use for the “countrypolitan” country music of Chet Atkins, who seemed the squarest of the Nashville squares to me. I had zero interest in Atkins until I wandered into my neighborhood branch of the New York Public Library one day in 1977 and chanced upon a copy of “Chester & Lester,” a Chet Atkins-Les Paul duet album. I was curious about Les and I liked the black-and white photo of the two smiling guitar pickers on the cover, so I checked the LP out of the library. When I got home and played it, what I heard delighted me: country/jazz swing performed with deceptive ease and elegance. Before the first side was over, I had a newfound admiration for Atkins.

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