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Chet Atkins Family Bestows Final C.G.P. Honor on Paul Yandell

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Paul Yandell CGPNashville, TN -- During his lifetime, the legendary Chet Atkins bestowed the title "C.G.P.," for "Certified Guitar Player," on only 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.

The proclamation read, in part:

Whereas, long a fixture as Chet's band leader and confidant, Paul Yandell was truly invaluable.

Whereas, he is no stranger to accolades for his many contributions to country music, the Nashville recording community, and the guitar world in his own rights.

Whereas, observing that Paul Yandell was involved in the distribution of all the C.G.P. honors as Chet's assistant, and being extremely humble and modest, recused himself of that very honor.

Be it resolved by the Atkins family that throughout the land Paul Yandell, thumbpicker supreme, be known as the last and final a C.G.P., certified guitar player. Paul, you are truly the C.G.P.'s C.G.P.!

"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.

Making his place in Nashville's musical community as a session player, Paul played on many hit records with Atkins, Reed, Dolly Parton, Steve Wariner, Hank Thompson, Perry Como, Roger Whitaker, Kitty Wells, The Louvin Brothers, Les Paul, Woody Herman, The Everly Brothers, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Paul appeared on TV shows such as The Dinah Shore Show, The Tonight Show, Today, The Pat Sajak Show, The Merv Griffin Show and Nashville Now.

After Chet died in 2001, Paul released a solo CD entitled Forever Chet, featuring many songs performed by Chet throughout his career. Paul released Dream Train in May of 2004, which featured many original tunes he wrote and performed on the New Gretsch "Nashville Classic" guitar that he co-designed. The artwork for the cover of Dream Train was drawn by Steve Wariner, who was also featured on lap steel on one of the tunes. Paul released In the Groove in 2005 and Drive On in 2006. In 2009, he performed at the ceremony during which Atkins was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville.

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