Sign up for newsletter
 

Steel guitar ace Emmons dies

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 – Buddy Emmons, an innovative pedal steel player, died July 21 of a heart attack.

Emmons played with such musicians as Little Jimmy Dickens, Linda Ronstadt, The Everly Brothers, Ernest Tubb, John Hartford and Ray Price.

Emmons was born Jan. 27, 1937 in Mishawaka, Ind. His father bought him a six-string lap steel guitar when he was 11 and arranged lessons for him. By 15, he had progressed to the point of playing with local bands in South Bend, Ind. He quite high school at 16 and moved to Detroit a year later to play with Casey Clark.

In 1955, Little Jimmy Dickens heard Emmons playing with Clark and offered him a job at 18. Emmons moved to Nashville and recorded several songs for Columbia with Dickens' band. In 1956, Dickens disbanded his group. Emmons and Shot Jackson then formed Sho-Bud Co. to design and build pedal steel guitars. He would continue tweaking the instrument in the ensuing decades with his steel guitar the instrument of choice for many. Emmons started doing session work in Nashville with one of his first being on Faron Young's hit "Sweet Dreams."

In 19857, Emmons joined Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours. He was on the hit "Half a Mind (to Leave You)," and the following year Emmons did leave Tubb's band and headed to California. He soon returned, rejoined the Troubadours, playing lead guitar before returning to pedal steel.

In 1962, Emmons left Tubb's group to join Ray Price and the Cherokee Cowboys. His first recording was the hit song "You Took Her Off My Hands." Emmons stayed with Price until 1967, unhappy with Price's pop-style direction.

But work fell off for Emmons, who fell victim to drinking, pills, tax issues and a second divorce.

Emmons got his life under control with his third marriage in 1967, a marriage which lasted until his wife's death in 2007. He moved to Los Angeles, playing bass for Roger Miller and doing session work. His first recording was on Judy Collins' "Someday Soon." He recorded with Gram Parsons, Nancy Sinatra and Ray Charles.

Emmons returned to Nashville in 1974 where he soon was doing session work for the likes of Mel Tillis, Duane Eddy and Charlie Walker. He continued doing session work for decades for artists including George Strait and Ricky Skaggs.

Emmons also recorded his own albums, including "Buddy Emmons Sings Bob Wills."

He also toured with the Everly Brothers started in 1991. He suffered from repetitive motion injury, which resulted in him stopping to play for a year. He never returned to regular studio work, but would sometimes record with Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush and Ray Price, while also doing steel guitar shows.

Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: These Eagles keep songs alive and well – The newly reconfigured Eagles lineup, which now includes Vince Gill and Deacon Frey in place of the late Glenn Frey, hasn't changed its set much since this modified grouping's debut at Dodger Stadium in 2017. Don Henley announced from the outset, though, how the group continues to tour primarily so it can keep the Eagles' many great songs alive.... »»»
Concert Review: Lovett could not have scripted it any better – Cerritos is a fair distance from Hollywood, but Lyle Lovett, who has accumulated a long list of acting credits, sometimes seemed like he was giving a company town performance this night. Maybe it was because Paul Reiser, the "Mad About You" star, introduced Lovett with a funny bit about what some of the man's songs mean (or don't mean).... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time  Subscribe to Country News Digest  Follow Country Standard Time on twitter  Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook 

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Tyminski goes dark Dan Tyminski (known simply as "Tyminski" on his 2017 release "Southern Gothic") has traditional music roots and unassailable bluegrass street cred especially given his membership in Alison Krauss' Union Station. He is also a powerful songwriter and has been writing songs for himself and others for years now.... »»»
Washburn, Fleck create "Echoes" Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have powerhouse individual talents; each has followed an estimable career path to where they find themselves today: making complex, but spare, records, writing music together and touring with their son Juno. Their new release, "Echoes In The Valley" features mostly songs written by Fleck and Washburn, banjos, Washburn's strong vocals and very little else.... »»»
Hillman bides his time Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band,... »»»
Cry Pretty CD review - Cry Pretty
Carrie Underwood's life was reading straight from the storybooks: one of the few American Idol Winners with ongoing success; a professional athlete for a husband; a beautiful baby boy. The string of great fortune turned sharply in 2017, »»»
My Way CD review - My Way
Not one to rest on his laurels, Willie Nelson's second studio release of the calendar year finds the artist dipping back into the Great American Songbook. Previous collections, including 1978's stellar Stardust, 2009's "American Classic" and 2016's "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin," established Nelson as one of the finest modern interpreters of American standards.  »»»