By Greg Olwell
It really doesn’t get much better than Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler playing music together, does it? The two fingerpickers are clearly enjoying the pleasure, and challenge, of playing with each other.
This clip was recorded during the duo’s performance at the Secret Policeman’s Third Ball, a series of charity fundraiser concerts held at the end of March 1987. They kick off with a very Atkins-y take on the classic “I’ll See You In My Dreams” before slowing down for John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
The two put aside the acoustic guitars we normally associate them with (Chet and his innovative nylon-string solidbody Gibson Chet Atkins CEC that he used for much of the ’80s; Mark with his 14-fret National Style 0), to pick a pair of matching Gibson SJ-200 Celebrity flattops.
The collaboration proved fruitful for the two guitarists, reinvigorating both and leading the two to record a popular album together, Neck and Neck, which came out in 1990 and yielded two Grammy awards: Best country vocal collaboration (“Poor Boy Blues”) and Best country instrumental performance (“So Soft Your Goodbye”).