It was 1963 and our folk group (The Villagers) had just signed with RCA
in Los Angeles and finished our side of the album (the other side was
the Womenfolk). RCA held a New Artists of 1963 party, and we were one of
the scheduled acts to play. Chet, as the head of RCA Victor Nashville,
had flown in to attend the party.
After we performed, I had a chance to mingle, and I noticed an empty
seat next to Chet at his table. I sat down, introduced myself and we
talked briefly about the song we'd just performed. I mentioned that I
knew Merle Travis pretty well, and that started a conversation about
I told him I was a terrible fingerpicker and didn't even try to play
like that. He said it takes a lot of practice and even then, it's
difficult. He followed that statement up with a great story:
After one of his shows, he met a kid who brought a guitar with him and
said he was having trouble figuring out a part on one of Chet's songs.
Chet asked the kid to play the song for him, which the kid did. After
the kid played the song, Chet told him, "you're doing great, just keep
working at it, you'll get it".
Then Chet looked at me, winked, and said, "I didn't have the heart to
tell the kid I had overdubbed that whole song - I couldn't play it
either". "But this kid had figured out how to play almost the whole song
on just one guitar".
- Harvey Gerst