Kentucky Muse

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Merle Travis: Guitar Man

30:00 | #702

Raised in the Western Kentucky coalfields during the Great Depression, songwriter and guitarist Merle Travis grew to worldwide stardom by the 1940s and 1950s. Today he is one of country music's most celebrated stylistic pioneers. His life story and his musical legacy are the focus of the documentary, Merle Travis: Guitar Man. Perhaps best recognized as the original balladeer of the classic "Sixteen Tons" as well as hits like "Nine Pound Hammer" and "Dark as a Dungeon" - which all drew inspiration from the struggles of coal miners - Travis, who died in 1983, is also celebrated as the developer of a unique thumb-picking guitar-playing style eventually dubbed "Travis pickin.'"

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First Aired: February 1, 2016