I booked Chet for a fund raising concert in Montgomery AL in early
'92 for local Baptist Health system, where I worked at the time. Chet
and Paul drove down the day of the show. I met Chet at the hotel
and drove him to a local television station for a noon interview. As
we arrived at the station, he looked next door and noticed a music
store, looked at his watch and noted that we still had about 30
minutes before his interview...and that he would like to visit the store.
I agreed and we walked in. Bear in mind that Chet was attired in a
plaid shirt and slacks, wearing his glasses...rather reminded me of
an uncle of mine. Unassuming. As we entered the store, a
salesman who had sold me a drumkit a year earlier recognized me
and asked how I was and if I needed help. He totally ignored Chet.
I looked the fellow and said, "No, I'm fine, but Mr. Atkins here would
like to see your guitars."
The young man's mouth dropped to the floor and his eyes popped
Chet graciously and calmly shook his hand. I was then forgotten for
the next half hour and could have robbed the store. The owners and
all employees were gathered round Chet in the guitar section.
Today, I tell friends it was like I went to shop for cars with Henry
Later, following the interview, I took Chet to lunch in the doctors'
private dining room at the hospital. Once again, no fanfare. The
doctors were all gabbing and eating....when one doctor, a rabid
country fan, marches up to our table and in a loud and overdone
announcement says, "Well, if it isn't Mr. Chet Atkins!!!"
Chet had a mouthfull of blackeyed peas and cornbread. He simply
looked up, cleared his throat, put down his fork and said, "Howdy,"
with a polite nod.
The concert that evening was a beloved experience for 1,300
guests, who witenessed Chet's mastery, dry wit, and kindness. I
was also quite surprised and honored when Chet called me out of
the crowd to help out with a little vocal part on "Sneakin' Around" A
photo of Chet and Suzy Bogguss, who opened that evening, is at
Before the concert, I was backstage visiting with him and his band,
when he called me aside, took out his checkbook, and wrote a large
contribution to our Hospice program. Chet Atkins is the only
entertainer I booked in ten years of shows with other legends who
had the class to make a gift back to the case. Today, a plaque
bearing the name "Chet Atkins, CGP" graces the wall of Baptist
It was at that concert that I became friends with Randy Hauser,
Chet's drummer. Randy, who died a few years ago in his early
40's, took me as a protege and invited me to Nashville to study with
him. Randy used my drumkit for his performance with Chet and
Jerry Reed at the CAAS meeting that year; I helped with the load-in
and sat at the very feet of Chet and Jerry during the performance.
Randy was out of the same physcial mold as Chet's previous
drummer, Larry Londin, who also died a few years back. Randy
was exemplary of all of Chet's sidemen; accomplished yet
May God rest Chet Atkins, who graced us all.
Paul G. Alexander, CFRE
Advancement and Alumni Services
Auburn University Montgomery
The FULL LIST of "When I Met Chet" stories