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Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 02:39 GMT 03:39 UK
Guitar legend Chet Atkins dies
Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins influenced a generation of rock musicians
Chet Atkins, who was acknowledged as one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century, has died in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 77.

He had been battling cancer for several years.

Atkins was one of the giants of country music, both as a guitarist and as a record executive, and he helped modernise country music in the 1960s.

Dubbed "Mr Guitar Man," Atkins was instrumental in creating the so-called Nashville Sound, collaborating with a chorus of other country music artists.

He helped develop the careers of such stars as Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Hank Williams and later Dolly Parton.

Hit records

But he was also a star in his own right, recording more than 75 albums of guitar instrumentals and selling more than 75 million albums.

He played, with his unconventional technique, on some of the biggest hit records of all time, including Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel and the Everly Brothers' Wake Up Little Susie.

He learned to play by listening to music shows on a home-made radio set. His elder half-brother and his father also taught him the basics.

But his first paid job in music was as a fiddler on a radio station in Knoxville, Tennessee. His boss said his fiddle playing was horrible, but he reportedly heard him play guitar during the break and persuaded him to concentrate on that.

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