The date of manufacture for this guitar is incorrectly printed in the catalogue and should read CIRCA 1968.
FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE MERLE TRAVIS
The following two guitars represent a unique partnership between the artist, Merle Travis and artisan, Paul A Bigsby. This friendship and working relationship culminated in some of the most important design innovations to effect American guitar making in the years following World War II.
Born in 1917 in Rosewood, Kentucky, Merle Robert Travis was immersed in the rural music of western Kentucky and the finger picking styles of Muhlenberg County guitarists like Kennedy Jones, Mose Rager, and Ike Everly. Rather then using a flat-pick, these players would pick the melody with the index finger of the right hand while the thumb supplied the rhythm on the bass strings. In the tradition of American colloquial music, Merle Travis would mold and stylize this technique of playing. By adding a syncopated rhythm along with Blues and Jazz over-tones he made the style uniquely his own.
His first public performance would be on a local radio amateur hour in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1936. It lead to multiple job offers and then a permanent position on Cincinnati's WLW, which was then the Mid-West's foremost radio station for Country Music programming. A move to Hollywood, California in 1944 began his national exposure with work in film, live performance and a recording contract with Capital Records. In 1947 he wrote his first hit made popular by Tex Williams, Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (that Cigarette). In 1953, his next break came when he won the role of the guitar picking GI in the film From Here to Eternity where he performed the movie's signature song Re-Enlistment Blues . In 1955, Tennessee Ernie Ford covered an earlier Travis composition, Sixteen Tons which quickly became a national cross-over hit furthering his recognition.
From 1944 to 1982 Travis appeared in 16 films and made countless recordings as both a solo musician and a session player. His unique style of finger-picking guitar would come to be known as Travis Picking and influence the likes of Hank Thompson, Scotty Moore, Doc Watson and the great Chet Atkins, all of whom acknowledged his contribution. Before his death in 1983 he had been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame.