I sent Chet a fan letter and a tape of my playing about 1975,
addressed to "Chet Atkins, RCA Records, Nashville, Tennessee." I guess
he didn't get the letter, but a couple of years later, the tape
was returned- with a rejection slip from "Ronnie Milsap Productions" . . .
I almost met Chet in the late 70's, when I took a student of mine
to hear him in concert one cold January night. After shivering in
an empty parking lot for an hour or so, the night watchman came over
to inform us that the concert had been moved to another location, but
no matter, it was cancelled anyway . . .
I almost met Chet again about 1980, when he played our local community
college. This time I attended with a whole delegation of my students.
After the performance, I visited briefly with Paul Yandell, who gave me
a thumbpick (I still have it). Only too late did I realize that Chet
was traveling in a separate vehicle. I rounded the corner of the building
just in time to wave "bye" as he was driven away. I like to think he
waved back, but I'm not sure . . .
I almost met Chet again about 1984. My wife and I were passing through Nashville,
and I worked up the courage to call his office. I explained to Carolyn, his secretary, that I was a guitarist, and Chet was my hero, and Iąd always wanted to meet him, and
would there be any way I could just stop by for a couple of minutes. She replied that she
was sorry, but that wouldn't be possible. I told her that was O.K., I realized it
was just a long shot, that he was a very busy man, and I didn't really expect he'd
be able to see me. "It's not that," she explained, "he's not here today."
I almost met again Chet about 1990, the first year I attended the CAAS convention in
Nashville. I was seated in the main auditorium, when I was struck by how much the
young man in front of me looked like Steve Wariner from behind. I was also struck
by how much his father resembled Chet from behind. You know the rest of the story . . .
Of course, I eventually did meet Chet. I treasure our visits and correspondence over the last few years. Chet, you're still my hero, and I pray for you every day.
God bless you!
- Craig Dobbins