I was starving in NYC when my first publishers, Jerry Leiber & Mike
Stoller, sent me to Nashville to plug my own songs. This was the 60s,
when Chet was Mr. RCA, Mr. Guitar, Mr. Everything, and I was an
unknown W. Va. songwriter, who'd migrated to Manhattan from
studying playwriting at Yale.
Chet listened politely to my songs on acetate: "Can't use this...Can't
use this...Like this one but have no artist for it...Let me hold this one."
(It was Blue Roses that he cut with Hank Snow.) I was too nervous to
initiate conversation, and Chet was just naturally reticent. So our
meeting was brief.
A few years later when I was running U.A. Music in Nashville, Chet
used to invite people like Norro Wilson and me--guys who liked
jokes--to his office to share a few laughs. Chet has a GREAT sense of
humor. From that, we started playing golf together, then writing songs
while we walked and talked. (I can't play many of the songs--Chet
worked out all the chord structures & melodies, I just contributed
ideas--but I cherish every one. Cherish, in fact, all our moments
Chet is not just the world's all-around best guitarist, he's a
wonderful human being, full of stories & wisdom and, surprisingly to
me, an appreciation for peoples' various talents. A very positive man. I
can't remember hearing him say a bad word about ANYBODY, even
those in the CMA who tried to fix it so he wouldn't keep winning
And as Chet sometimes says, "That's my opinion...and it ought to be
- Billy Edd Wheeler