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Letters from Chet Atkins to Rick Foster

These excerpts from Chet's letters appear exactly as sent—typos, punctuation, and all.

July 28, 1973

Dear Rick,

I was aware of your talent as an arranger and now I have gotten to hear you play. I think you do a great job on the classics, especially the things you arrange. In other words I enjoyed the album. I will give the others to some of my friends as you suggest.

Mr. Bojangles has been part of our stage show for some time (Music Festival.) I am going to record it sometime and I did get some ideas from your version.

I would like to meet you Rick. If I appear anywhere close to you, come around and say "hello". I believe I will be at Stone Mt. in August (25 and 26). Hope to see you there.


May 16, '85

Rick, I love your tape of Christmas songs. Very Good. Excellent musicianship, good sound and everything. Good luck with it.

If I can ever help with your recording in any way, let me know. I could always add echo or any of those things.

All my best wishes, Chet

October 29, 1986

Dear Rick, Wendy, Jody and Tobi,

C.G.P. means corny guitar player or certified guitar player, whatever you want it to be. I gave myself a degree. Thanks for the tape on the fellow, cannot remember the name. Nice chords maybe a little too many but what do I know. . . .

Regards, Chet

November 28, 1989

Rick Ole Pal,

It was so nice to hear from you today. I have been suffering with a bronicial problem, taking pills that make me irritable and your tape brightened up my day. Your sure play pretty on those sides.

I am at work on a TV album project and a duet thing with Mark Knopfler. But not busy enough during these holidays. I haven't learned a new lick in so long. I don't hear as well now that I am on the back nine of life and music just doesn't sound as good and consuquently there is not the overwhelming desire to practice.

And that is about all the bad news. I hope you and Wendy will pass this way some time. It would be great to visit. So, , , I think we should start a drive to free Jim Bakker. I think the little dude was given a raw deal. All he did was over book and seperate a few folks from their pay check.

Cheers, Chet

January 13, 1991

Chet was teasing about Leona.

Dear Rick and Wendy,

I had a pretty good letter going and Leona pulled out the AC cord to this Word Processor so now I am starting over. I did beat her severely about the head and shoulders. These women's rights are a bunch of Baloney you know. She is now saying it was her fault and begging me to hit her again. Old fashioned girl.

Well, on the more serious side, I am doing the same things thanks to providence. My latest project was with Mark Knopfler the Brit and it is doing very well. No doubt due to Mark and his great popularity all over the world. I would say it helps to hang around younger players.

I am now making some sides with Jerry Reed and it is coming along. He has never had any confidence as a guitarist but he is copied all over the world. That doesn't matter at all to him. He never plays any of his own material, can't even remember it, most of the time.

It is always good to hear from you. I enjoy the stuff you send and I am always thinking of you and wishing you well. It would be nice if we could see each other more often., You have always been a positive influence on me. I still play Mister Bojangles which was inspired by hearing you play it. Even though you don't hear much from me, I think of you guys a lot and of course always wish you well. So . . . . . . . .

Happy New Year, sincerely,

Chet, cgp

May 14, 1992

Dear Rick,

As usual it is nice to hear from you. . . .

I would like a copy of the Parkening-Segovia performances when you get time to transfer them. . . .

. . . I have always known that I am a good person, I live too much by the golden rule, for my own good so, what other people think has long ceased to concern me. It once did but after a lecture from my mentor Fred Rose (the best song writer and man I ever knew) I was freed from that. . . .

Being a little square, I feel that most anything I like will appeal to the public also. To remain on a major label I must give them what they think they can sell but usually all that is changed is the background music. So I don't feel that I have pandered to the low instincts of people ever. When I was producing a lot of folks, it was the same. I deplore that type of content in the movies and songs of today. Ever since Kristofferson came on the scene, writers try writing sensuous songs in the same manner and it just doesn't work, they don't have the class.

Thanks for offering to play at my finale. I would love that. Garrison Kellior has promised to come down or send down a nice taped eulogy. None of my brothers made it past my age (67) So, I don't do much planning ahead. I never buy to many guitar strings and sometimes don't even buy green Bananas. That's confidence in my future, isn't it.

I'm sorry I didn't get back to you when you last called. I have had two really bad colds since Feb. and they laid me pretty low. I'm just getting over the last one.

My best wishes to Wendy and the Chillun and LISTEN, make sure they get plenty of protein. I see so many vegetarians who look like they just escaped from Bergen Belson.

Regards, Chet

February 4, 1993

We received this letter from Chet after sending him our video, Rick Foster At Home With the Guitar.

Dear Rick and Wendy,

What a fine tape you have made. Leona and I sincerely enjoyed it. You guys are genuine truck farmers. From what I could see the ground looks very dark and rich. And it is obviously great fruit country. I believe I knew that already. . . .

The pickin' was fine also. Boy, I would hate to know that I had to perform any of those tunes on camera without mistakes. You do very well on the CE Gibson Classic. The sound could be enhanced considerably if you had just a little digital reverb. There are some nice ones around now and they are not severely expensive.

Well, I am still trying to play but it is less fun when the highs go. I have learned a couple of licks from a friend, now I must learn to utilize them.

You know, if I met you on the street I'm sure I wouldn't know you. That mustache does strange things to your face. To anybody's face really.

Anyhow, stay well and eat some beef once in a while. Moderation is the secret to good health. That is my opinion and it should be yours. That is a joak son.

Chet, cgp

May 1997

Thanks Rick, yes two bouts with cancer, lung and brain. I will be through with radiation next Tuesday, then some MRI to see if it did any good.

I can't play now. The left hand is pretty useless. A rough technique may return with some practice. Thanks for caring.

Chet A.