Merle Travis was virtually without peer as a guitarist and songwriter. A unique stylist, he was respected and prominent enough to have an instrumental style ("Travis picking") named after him, and only Chet Atkins even comes close to the influence that Travis had on the way the guitar is understood and played in country music. (Indeed, Atkins was initially signed to RCA to be that label's Merle Travis.) As a songwriter, he wasn't far behind, with originals such as "Sixteen Tons" crossing over as popular standards in the hands of other artists. He even played two different vital and indirect roles in the development of rock & roll, and was no slouch as a recording artist, with his own share of chart hits and novelty songs.