Merle Robert Travis

November 29, 1917 / October 20, 1983

Travis was born in Rosewood, Kentucky. His lyrics often discussed the life and exploitation of coal miners. Among his many well-known songs are "Sixteen Tons", "Re-Enlistment Blues" and "Dark as a Dungeon". However, it is his masterful guitar playing and his interpretations of the rich musical traditions of his native Muhlenberg County, Kentucky for which he is best known today. "Travis picking", a syncopated style of finger picking, is named after him. Merle Travis is now widely acknowledged as one of the most influential American guitarists of the twentieth century. His unique guitar style inspired many guitarists who followed, most notably Chet Atkins. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977.


"To brighten the future we must illuminate the past."