Physician and guitarist Jim Coleman, one of Chet Atkins ’ doctors, has recorded a tribute album to the ailing Country Music Hall of Fame member. Titled The Guitar That Made America Great, Coleman’s 15-song collection covers such Atkins memorables as “Mr. Sandman,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Vincent,” “Waitin’ for Suzy B” and “I Still Can’t Say Goodbye.”
Coleman holds the distinction of having played with Atkins during his last public performance, June 12, 1998, in Knoxville.
In his liner notes, Coleman explains Atkins’ connection to each of the songs and explains some of the more exotic tunings. He says he chose the album’s title “because I truly believe that the guitar of Chet Atkins has added so much to the greatness of this country.”
A native of Alabama, Coleman began playing guitar in his early teens. One of the early local bands he played in, the Gents, toured with Duane and Gregg Allman’s group, the Allman Joys. Coleman switched from music to med school in his early 20s. He moved to Nashville in 1992. He has recorded two other guitar albums, Little Jo and The Lost Treasures of Domenico Scarlatti.
Coleman reports that Atkins, who has had several bouts with cancer, is now being treated at home. He says he played his tribute album for Atkins several months ago and that his response was, “You made a couple of mistakes, but nobody but me would notice.”
Coleman’s website is www.jjcoleman.com.