Merle Robert Travis (November 29, 1917--October 20, 1983) was an American country and Western singer, songwriter, and musician born in Rosewood, Kentucky. His lyrics often discussed the life and exploitation of coal miners. Among his many well-known songs are 'Sixteen Tons', 'Re-Enlistment Blues' and 'Dark as a Dungeon'. However, it is his masterful guitar playing and his interpretations of the rich musical traditions of his native Muhlenberg County, Kentucky for which he is best known today. 'Travis picking', a syncopated style of finger picking, is named after him. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977. Travis was born and raised in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky which would inspire many of Travis' own original songs. (This is the same coal mining county mentioned in the John Prine song 'Paradise') He became interested in the guitar early in life and originally played one made by his brother.
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