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Chet Atkins' widow dies

Thursday, October 22, 2009 – Leona Atkins, who sang with twin sister Lois Johnson as The Johnson Twins and later married Chet Atkins, died at her Nashville home Wednesday morning after a lengthy illness at 85.

She was born Leona Johnson, near Williamsburg, Ohio. The Johnson Twins, who used pseudonyms for their first names (Leona was "Laverne," and Lois was "Fern) sang on Cincinnati's WLW radio in the 1940s.

Atkins performed on the station's Boone County Jamboree and met Leona. They married in 1946. Lois married Jethro Burns of Homer & Jethro fame that same year.

After her marriage, Leona Atkins did little performing, supporting her husband's career and raising a family. Chet Atkins died in 2001.

She had a role in the Garrison Keillor movie, "A Prairie Home Companion." He was a fan of her music, and when he wrote the screenplay, he added a sister act named Leona and Lois.

CD reviews for Chet Atkins

Guitar Legend: The RCA Years
Few musicians have had such impact, both as musician and producer, as Chet Atkins. But leaving aside one's feelings about his popularizing of the Nashville Sound, it's as Guitar Legend that this masterful picker is celebrated here. Two CDs and 50 tracks - 4 previously unreleased - display a stylistic versatility that his more mainstream albums never showcased. The dazzling swing of "Canned Heat," supported by hot fiddle and accordion, give way to forays into R & B ("Tweedle Dee") and western »»»
Christmas with Chet Atkins
It's awfully hard to find fault with one of country's greatest guitar players playing 14 classic Christmas carols. On many tracks, Atkins is backed by The Anita Kerr Singers, but the focus is always squarely on the guitar. The album opens with a buoyant performance of "Jingle Bell Rock," but Atkins quickly lays back to serve up a sweetly lilting performance of "Winter Wonderland." His electric guitar turns frolicsome again on "Jolly Old St. Nicholas," but on "White Christmas" he offers another »»»
Chet Atkins Picks On the Beatles
Out of the RCA vault comes this reissue from 1966, 12 songs clocking in atabout 30 minutes, but with Atkins you've got quality, not quantity. That's because without vocals, hype or attitude getting in the way, the listener cansoak in a harvest of sun ripened guitar riffs that haven't lost any potentcy in 30 years. True, Atkins is even more amazing now than back then, but hearing "And I Love Her" and "Things We Said Today" as only he can perform them is a timeless pleasure, complemented by »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: For McCoury, Grisman, music still matters – One condenser microphone, a music stand, a mandolin, rhythm guitar and more than 100 years of bluegrass experience: that's all David Grisman and Del McCoury need to put on a show. It's quite a show, too. The artists' backstories are well known: McCoury was a logger in Lancaster County, Pa., who came to New York City to see Bill... »»»
Concert Review: Ely wears well – Joe Ely is the prototypical rambler. It comes through in his music and in his life. There are lots of elements in the music about travels, riding the rails, small town scenery and getting away from it. In fact, after playing "I'm Gonna Strangle You Shorty" as the first song of his encore, Ely opined, "The only thing I got out of... »»»
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