Many Artists Praised Chet Atkins in Song

Performers didn’t just like and respect Chet Atkins . They wrote and recorded songs to him. A couple of them even made the charts.

Texas comedian Don Bowman, a friend of Waylon Jennings, persuaded Atkins to sign him to RCA Records, whereupon he wrote and recorded the ingratiating (and phonetically aberrant) plea “Chit Akins, Make Me a Star.” It did just that. The song breezed all the way up to No. 14 in 1964, becoming Bowman’s highest charting effort ever.

In 1967, a group of RCA artists calling itself “Some of Chet’s Friends” recorded the single “Chet’s Tune.” Despite the combined star power of Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, Bowman, Jim Ed Brown, Archie Campbell, Floyd Cramer, Skeeter Davis, Jimmy Dean, George Hamilton IV, Homer & Jethro, Jennings, Hank Locklin, John D. Loudermilk, Willie Nelson, Norma Jean, Jerry Reed, Connie Smith, Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner and Dottie West, the single stayed on the charts a mere nine weeks and peaked at No. 38. But, as always, it was the thought that counted.

Atkins’ longtime rhythm guitarist, Paul Yandell, cut the tribute “Forever Chet” on an album of the same name. The Statler Brothers’ recorded a hat-tipper called “Chet Atkins’ Hand.” For their duet album Reflections, Doc Watson and Atkins picked a piece called “Me and Chet Made a Record.”

On Paul McCartney’s 1993 album, Paul Is Live, McCartney’s lead guitarist, Robbie McIntosh, played his tribute “Thanks Chet.” McIntosh re-cut the tune last year on his own album, Unsung.

Chit Akins lighted lots of stars.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.