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I was very fortunate to meet Chet at the Albert Thomas Convention Center in Houston when he played with The Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1975. Before the show, I looked up to the Mezzanine and saw Chet and his entourage go into a little room about 1/2 hour before the show was to begin.

I immediately excused myself from the table and said, "I'm going up to the mezzanine and see if I can see or meet and talk with Chet Atkins." Everyone at the table laughed and said I was crazy.

Well I proceeded up the elevator and was confronted by a very big bodyguard who said "You can't see Mr. Atkins now - he is getting ready for the show!" I answered with, "Please, I'm a fan of Mr. Atkins from back in the 50's and hoped I could meet and talk with him." The bodyguard told me to come to the door with him and he'd ask if I could come in for a few minutes. Well much to my surprise Mr. Atkins with a very welcoming voice said, "Sure come on in!"

He shook my hand as I introduced myself. I told him my name and that I had moved from Columbus, Ohio with my wife and 3 children to Conroe, Texas in 1971, and I've been a fan of his since the 50's when I heard him play on radio station WLW out of Cincinnati. He answered by saying, "I'm pleased to meet you and I hope your party will enjoy the show. Please excuse me but, I've got to limber up for the show now - you're welcome to sit and watch." Well I watched dumbstruck and awestruck as he practiced with no amplifier. The music from that unamplified guitar filled the room with a musical artistry that was unmistakably "Mister Guitar"! I asked for his autograph and he signed my business card on the back. He made me feel like I was his next door neighbor at the time. I couldn't believe this super artist and his group in that room could be so down to earth with me as a total stranger. I again thanked Mr. Atkins and his entourage and went back to enjoy the show.

3 hours later, Chet responded to a FOURTH encore. Finally, he apologized and said that the dance band scheduled after him had already given up some of their time and he would love to play more but, would not be able to anymore this night.

- Bob Parks

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