Merle Travis (Merle Robert Travis)

Merle Travis

Merle Travis

Grammy Award-winning country music artist. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1977. He wrote the hit single, “Sixteen Tons,” in addition to several other hit records. He was well known for his legendary guitar work, and made an art form of his unique style of finger-picking. He was born in 1917 in Rosewood, Kentucky to Rob and Etta Travis. In 1974, Merle Travis and Chet Atkins won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance. Travis began playing guitar in his youth, and was soon making radio performances. He began to travel across the country playing with various country bands. After serving in the Marines during the war, he moved to California and returned to his musical career. He appeared on television and in several films, including “From Here To Eternity”. Travis was a cartoonist, and did some television scriptwriting. About a year before he died, he appeared in the Clint Eastwood film, “Honkytonk Man”. Merle Travis died in October of 1983. His body was cremated, and his ashes are at a monument erected to him in Ebenezer (Muhlenberg County), Kentucky. The memorial is located off Highway 176, about 10 miles outside Central City. Also, a small hand-painted stone memorial to him can be found on a highway near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the town where he passed away. Travis is considered a musical legend, and his guitar playing is still considered among the finest in modern country music.

More Images

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  • November, 29, 1917
  • Rosewood, Kentucky


  • October, 20, 1983
  • Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Cause of Death

  • Heart attack


  • Ebenezer Cemetery
  • Ebenezer, Kentucky

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