b. Raymond Atkins, 19 February 1927, Erwin, Tennessee, USA, d. 1 February 1997. Ray ‘Duck’ Atkins was so influenced by Pete Kirby’s dobro playing with Roy Acuff that he decided to learn the instrument himself. After winning a talent contest in 1942, he joined Carl Story’s Rambling Mountaineers and played with them at WNOX Knoxville, until Story left for military service in World War II. Between 1946 and 1951, after a spell at WROL Knoxville with Bonnie Lou And Buster and the Morris Brothers, he joined Johnnie And Jack’s Tennessee Mountain Boys and played with them at WPTF Raleigh, WSM Nashville and KWKH Shreveport, finally leaving because his wife did not like Shreveport. He rejoined his old boss, Carl Story, in Knoxville until 1955, when, somewhat tired of travelling, he became a WNOX staff musician. In 1958, he began daily television appearances with Arthur Smith at WBT Charlotte, where he also acquired his nickname of Duck as a result of his Donald Duck impersonations in a comedy act with a duck puppet called Quackerjack. In the mid-60s, he became a disc jockey, and later became involved in the management of radio stations when he became part-owner of WIXE Monroe. He sold his business ventures in 1990, and retired to Mint Hill, North Carolina. Although he made Apollo, King Records and RCA Records recordings with Johnnie And Jack (playing on their big hit ‘Poison Love’) and with Story on Mercury Records and Columbia Records, he made few, if any, solo recordings. However, historian John Morris eventually persuaded him out of retirement to record for his Old Homestead label.
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