Yandell Joins CGP Elite

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• August 15, 2011

(L-R) Steve Wariner, Merle Atkins Russell and Paul Yandell

During his lifetime Chet Atkins bestowed the title of Certified guitar Player on just four guitar pickers; Tommy Emmanuel, John Knowles, the late Jerry Reed, and Steve Wariner. At a program Saturday marking the opening of the new Chet Atkins exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum®, Atkins’ daughter Merle asked Steve Wariner to help her continue the tradition and read a proclamation that officially conferred the last and final “c.g.p.” title on Paul Yandell, the master guitarist who had been Atkins’ bandleader and confidant for over 30 years.

“I was thrilled to be invited to help honor Paul like this,” said Wariner. “He’s an incredible player and a dear friend to me, as he was to Chet. What a cool class thing for Merle and the Atkins family to do. So completely right!”

Paul Yandell was an accomplished player by the time he left high school in western Kentucky, arriving in Nashville in 1955. He began his career with The Louvin Brothers, working with them until 1959 and playing on many of their greatest hits. After serving in the Army, Paul joined the Kitty Wells show, where he stayed from 1961-1970. He joined Jerry Reed in 1970, and as Paul says, he “went to college” learning from Jerry. Paul joined Chet Atkins in 1975 and supported Chet in his career for the next 25 years. In 2009, he performed at the ceremony during which Atkins was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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