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Merle Travis (1917-1983)

Arguably one of the most influential guitar stylists of the twentieth Century, Merle Travis emerged from the coalfields of western Kentucky to become a prominent singer and songwriter. The coalfields of his youth and the exploitation of miners inspired some of his greatest hits, including “Sixteen Tons” and “Dark as a Dungeon.” He developed his own unique guitar picking style that became known as “Travis picking,” which had a profound influence on, among others, Chet Atkins and Hank Thompson. Today, that style of playing can still be heard in the work of such artists as Tommy Emmanuel. Longtime fan Doc Watson named his son, Merle Watson, in Merle Travis’s honor. He is  a  member of both the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Studio portrait/Nashville



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the Ryman Auditorium during a lightning storm - the End of an Era