Doyle Dykes (born May 23, 1954) is an American country acoustic guitarist from Jacksonville, Florida. He is influenced by a wide variety of musical styles and musicians such as Chet Atkins, the Allman Brothers, to the Beatles and U2. Cited along with guitarists such as Tommy Emmanuel as one of the best fingerstyle guitarists in the world, he is also known for his capability of playing proficiently with a wide range of different guitar tunings. Some of his best-known works and interpretations are “Wabash Canonball”, “Country Fried Pickin”, “Tricky Pickin”, “Chet Stuff”, “Be Still”, “Amazing Grace” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Dykes is a devout Christian and has served as a minister in a small church in Florida; the influence of Christianity is present in much of his work. He was a major endorser of Taylor Guitars and Rivera Sedona amplifiers, with his own signature models of each. In 2013 he began endorsing the Guild Guitar Company.
Dykes grew up in Jacksonville, Florida in a Christian community. His father is referred to as “Bubba Dykes” and he has a brother named Aubrey. He cites June 1965 during his church’s “summer revival” as the moment he became a lifelong Christian as an 11 year-old boy, seeing “the lights of salvation and a new purpose and desire for my life and since that day, I’ve never been the same”. His first guitar was a $30 Sears Roebuck Silvertone acoustic. Dykes claims a sailor named Barry Lackey was the most important influence in his development as a guitarist. Lackey attended his church one day, and using a thumbpick from his pocket, “completely blew him away” with his “spider picking”, playing just like Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, Doyle’s heroes. Lackey was then invited to his house one day and showed him a right-hand picking pattern that “got his fingers working together in the right way, where the thumb played the bass and after-beat rhythm, and the three fingers took care of the rest.” He later reunited with Lackey at a Taylor Guitars event in Detroit in 2002, and claims that were it not for him, he would never have become a successful guitarist.
Dykes’ early years as a guitarist took him around the world as he toured with The Stamps Quartet and later with Grand Ole Opry star Grandpa Jones. Dykes has since returned to the Grand Ole Opry for numerous performances. Although a world-renowned guitarist, Dykes frequently still plays church venues with small audiences, stating, “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play music for people.
Dykes was a longtime endorser of Taylor Guitars. According to owner Bob Taylor, “If I had to pick the artist who most represented the Taylor Guitars brand and who has done the most for us, I would say Doyle Dykes. Doyle has represented Taylor Guitars to more players for more years than anyone.” The Doyle Dykes Signature Model Taylor guitar (“DDSM”) features an amplification system by L.R. Baggs.
On December 23, 2004, Dykes had an operation on a brain tumor in which the surgeon compressed his brain. The operation left him with a temporary loss of balance (meaning he had to learn to walk again) and suffered from extreme headaches and nausea for several years afterwards and ultimately left him deaf in his right ear. He and his wife, Rita, a childhood sweetheart, have been married for at least 37 years and have four children, including daughters named Heidi and Hayley and a son named Caleb, also an accomplished guitarist. He has resided for many years in the Nashville area and is a close friend of Duane Eddy. Dykes is an avid collector of old Western movies, including the films of John Wayne, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Steve McQueen. In 2011 he released a book The Lights of Marfa, a semi-autobiographical book documenting his encounters with God, with numerous Christian references to events in his own life.