Merle Travis

Merle Robert Travis (November 29, 1917 – October 20, 1983) was an American country and western singer, songwriter, and guitarist born in Rosewood, Kentucky, United States. His songs' lyrics often discussed both the lives and the economic exploitation of American coal miners. Among his many well-known songs and recordings are "Sixteen Tons", "Re-Enlistment Blues", "I am a Pilgrim" and "Dark as a Dungeon". However, it is his unique guitar style, still called "Travis picking" by guitarists, as well as his interpretations of the rich musical traditions of his native Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, for which he is best known today. Travis picking is a syncopated style of guitar fingerpicking rooted in ragtime music in which alternating chords and bass notes are plucked by the thumb while melodies are simultaneously plucked by the index finger. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977.

Birth and Death Data: Born November 29, 1917 (Muhlenberg County), Died October 20, 1983 (Tahlequah)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1937 - 1956

Roles Represented in DAHR: songwriter, electric guitar, guitar, lyricist, composer

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-014056 10-in. 9/12/1937 New steel guitar rag Bill Boyd ; Cowboy Ramblers String band, with drums lyricist  
Victor D6VB-1982 10-in. 12/17/1946 Steel guitar rag Golden West Cowboys ; Pee Wee King Male vocal solo, with string band lyricist  
Victor D6VB-2155 10-in. 9/12/1946 Divorce me C.O.D. Four King Sisters Female vocal quartet, with jazz/dance band songwriter  
Victor D7VB-0442 10-in. 1/29/1947 So round, so firm, so fully packed Riders of the Rio Grande ; Johnny Tyler Male vocal solo, with string band songwriter  
Victor D7VB-0592 10-in. 7/7/1947 Smoke, smoke, smoke (that cigarette) Phil Harris ; Phil Harris Orchestra Male vocal solo, with male vocal group and jazz/dance band songwriter  
Columbia H1426 10-in. 6/13/1945 I want to be sure Gene Autry String band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
Columbia HCO2020 10-in. 9/9/1946 Here's to the ladies Gene Autry Male vocal solo, with string band instrumentalist, electric guitar  
Columbia HCO2022 10-in. 9/9/1946 Dixie cannon ball Gene Autry String band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, electric guitar  
Columbia HCO2161 10-in. 11/25/1946 Divorce me C.O.D. Johnny Bond ; Red River Valley Boys Male vocal solo, with string band songwriter  
Columbia HCO2162 10-in. 11/25/1946 So round, so firm, so fully packed Johnny Bond ; Red River Valley Boys Male vocal solo, with string band songwriter  
Columbia HCO2472 10-in. 7/22/1947 Smoke! smoke! smoke! (that cigarette) Johnny Bond String band, with male vocal solo and male vocal group songwriter  
Columbia HCO2475 10-in. 7/22/1947 I like my chicken fryin' size Johnny Bond String band, with male vocal solo lyricist, composer  
Columbia HCO2968 10-in. 12/14/1947 A petal from a faded rose Johnny Bond Male vocal solo, with string band songwriter  
Columbia HCO3494 10-in. 12/29/1948 Tennessee Saturday night Johnny Bond Male vocal solo, with string band instrumentalist, electric guitar  
Columbia HCO3495 10-in. 12/29/1948 A heart full of love (for a handful of kisses) Johnny Bond Male vocal, with string band instrumentalist, electric guitar  
Columbia HCO3496 10-in. 12/29/1948 Till the end of the world Johnny Bond Male vocal solo, with string band instrumentalist, electric guitar  
Decca L 9715 11/27/1956 Ruby pearl Jackie Lee Cochran instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca L 9716 11/27/1956 Dear Mom and Dad Jackie Lee Cochran instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca L 9717 11/27/1956 For you baby Jackie Lee Cochran instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca L 9718 11/27/1956 Mama don't you think I know Jackie Lee Cochran instrumentalist, guitar  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Travis, Merle," accessed February 25, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105369.

Travis, Merle. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105369.

"Travis, Merle." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 25 February 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/105369

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