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John's Scrapbook
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Before the guitar, I played accordion. I was already finding chords with my left hand. Dad didn't always hold my music, but he and mom backed me 100%.

I spent my high school years with Gene and Barry. As the Surfriders, we each earned $15 a night on weekends. I wish I still had the Gretsch... and the shirt.

That's me performing Chet's "Blue Echo" on my Gretsch 6120. The necktie, hair and thumbpick are real.

Chet and I share a Grammy grin after "The Entertainer" won
"Country Instrumental of the Year."

Chet took Lenny and I over to meet Les Paul. First we picked ... then we grinned.

Jerry wouldn't show me how to play his tunes…but he would tell me when I was wrong.

Chet and I swap tunes and stories in his RCA office.

Chet helps me learn to perform under pressure. I'm playing my Hascal Haile classical while Chet backs me up on a custom axe from his personal collection.

Chet, Elizabeth Pearson, Will Mason and I take a break after recording the soundtrack for “Get Started on Guitar,” our instructional video.

Kirk Sand, Chet and I check out the prototypes of Kirk's electric nylon-string guitars.

Chet caught me off guard when he awarded me the first honorary CGP degree at the 1996 Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Convention in Nashville

Chet gives last minute instructions to our 100-guitar marching band at the groundbreaking for the new Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tommy Emmanuel and I double up at Mark Hanson's Accent on Music Seminar 2004.


I felt honored to be inducted into the National Thumb Pickers Hall of Fame for a second time in August of 2004.