Guitarist Paul Yandell, Chet Atkins’ Longtime Sideman, Dies at Age 76

Paul Yandell, a noted Nashville studio guitarist who spent 25 years as Chet Atkins‘ sideman, died near Nashville at age 76 following a lengthy illness. A native of Kentucky, Yandell moved to Nashville in 1955 and started his professional career recording and touring with the Louvin Brothers. After serving in the Army, he spent the 1960s performing and recording with Kitty Wells. He began working with Jerry Reed in 1970 and served as Atkins’ primary sideman from 1975 until Atkins’ death in 2001. As a session musician, he also recorded with Dolly Parton, George Strait, Hank Thompson, the Everly Brothers, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Perry Como, Roger Whitaker, Les Paul, Woody Herman and many others. Following Atkins’ death, Yandell recorded five solo albums and performed in Nashville with Steve Wariner in 2009 when Atkins was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame. He also appeared on Wariner’s latest album, Guitar Laboratory, released earlier this year. In August, Atkins’ daughter, Merle, and Wariner bestowed the final “C.G.P.” honor to Yandell during a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Up until that time, the award, which stands for “certified guitar player,” had only been presented to Wariner, Reed, Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles.