Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: November 29, 1917 - Merle Robert Travis


Photo from Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club (

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia –
Merle Robert Travis, guitarist, was the son of William Robert and Laura Etta (Latham) Travis, born in Muhlenberg County , Kentucky, on November 29, 1917. He began his career on radio station WGBF-Evansville in Indiana in 1935 and joined Clayton McMichen's Georgia Wildcats band in 1937. About 1940 he went to WLW-Cincinnati. In 1944 Travis moved to California, where he performed on radio and television, led a band that toured the Southwest, and appeared in some forty movies. He originated the "Travis picking style," a three-fingered style of playing melody and rhythm simultaneously on the guitar, using the thumb to maintain a bass rhythm while the forefinger played a syncopated melody on the treble strings. He is credited with designing the first solid- body (flat top) electric guitar, known as the Fender guitar. He and Chet Atkins won the Grammy for the best country instrumental in 1974. Travis was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He died October 20, 1983, and is buried in Greenville, Kentucky.

CHARLES F. FABER, Entry Author

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Green, Douglas B. Country Roots : The Origins of Country Music. New York: Hawthorn, 1976. Print.
ML3561 .C69 G73, Fine Arts Library

Travis, Merle. The Best of Merle Travis Sweet Temptation (1946-1953). New York: Razor & Tie, 2000.
CD9178, Fine Arts Media Center

Travis, Merle. In Boston, 1959. Cambridge, Mass.: Rounder Select, 2003.
Internet Access

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