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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Paul Yandell born 6 September 1935

Paul T. Yandell (6 September 1935- 21 November 2011) was an American guitar player from Mayfield, Kentucky.  

Paul played fingerstyle, a style he learned to play from his neighbours and became an accomplished player by the time he left high school in Western Kentucky. He worked at a radio station in nearby Benton as a teenager and in 1955 arrived in Nashville. 

Paul started his career with The Louvin Brothers, which lasted until 1959, with Paul playing on many of their greatest hits. After serving in the army, Paul joined the Kitty Wells show where he stayed from 1961-1970. Paul joined Jerry Reed in 1970 and as Paul says he “went to college” learning from Jerry Reed. Paul stayed with Jerry through 1975.  

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

From 1975 until the late 1990s, Yandell worked with Chet Atkins doing shows, recordings, and TV appearances, and produced an instructional video called Fingerstyle Legacy. 

After Chet died in 2001, Yandell recorded five albums and designed guitars for Gretsch, most notably the limited edition stereo version of the Gretsch 6120, a model used by Atkins in the 1950s. 

In the 1980's Yandell came up with the idea of an acronym, sort of like
those describing a degree (M.A. or  PhD) or profession (CPA, RN) to describe guitar virtuosos. It was "C.G.P." or "Certified Guitar Player."  Chet bestowed the title (which he copyrighted) on himself and only four other players: Reed, and educator John Knowles, Wariner and Australian fingerstyle great Tommy Emmanuel. with whom Chet made his last album. 

Typically modest, Yandell did not seek the honor for himself, feeling since he conceived it, it was inappropriate for him to receive it.  During August 2011, as the Country Music Hall of Fame opened their Chet Atkins exhibit, Chet's daughter Merle Atkins Russell (named for Travis) presented Yandell with the final C.G.P. award to be awarded.   “I never expected to be a C.G.P.,” Mr. Yandell told the audience, “but what better could you be than that?”

Paul’s albums were "Forever Chet" featuring many songs performed by Chet throughout his career. “Dream Train” was released May of 2004 and features many original tunes written by Paul and performed on the New Gretsch “Nashville Classic” that was co-designed by Paul. The artwork for the cover of Dream Train was drawn by Steve Wariner, who is also featured on lap steel on one of the tunes. Other albums include “One More Time”, “In the Groove” (2005) and “Drive On” (2006) 

Yandell died on 21 November 2011 in Hendersonville, Tennessee, just outside Nashville, after a battle with cancer. He was 76.  (Info various mainly from

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