Salute to Buddy Emmons in Nashville

The Big E - A Salute to Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons - Country Music Hall of Fame

CountryMusicHallOfFame.org

Speak with any steel guitar fan, and one name they always know is Buddy Emmons. On Saturday, Sept. 21, starting at 2:30 p.m., the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville will host a “concert and conversation” with “the Big E.” If you can’t make the scene in person, check out the live video stream on the Hall of Fame’s website. Although Emmons isn’t planning to perform, the great Duane Eddy, Dan Dugmore, and Hargus “Pig” Robbins will be there for the program. For more information, click here.

In 1954, Casey Clark hired Emmons to play with his band in Detroit. Clark had seen him at Buck Lake Ranch in Angola, Indiana, working with Joe Taylor and his Red Birds.

At that age, Emmons was “ready to play any time, anywhere,” he said. [1] Indeed, many veteran Detroit musicians recalled jamming with the teen-aged steel guitarist at jamborees, barn dances, and private homes throughout Detroit.

“I ended up living in Belle Isle park – or a place close to there, because that’s where I tipped a canoe over one time, and lost an expensive watch and rings and all that. So it was close to Belle Isle park,” said Emmons, who settled on the east side, near Clark’s home. “I lived a couple blocks from Casey, for a while. I guess I moved into a house where the tenants were going on vacation for a few months, so I had to stay there until I got on my feet and started looking for another place.”

Emmons lived in Detroit, working with the Lazy Ranch Boys, through mid-1955, when Jimmy Dickens hired him. Read all about the Lazy Ranch Boys, including other stellar steel guitarists such as Jim Baker, Terry Bethel, and Chuck Rich, in the book “Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies.”

Congratulations, Buddy!

The Lazy Ranch Boys, ca. early 1955

Photograph taken on the set of the CKLW-TV production “Casey Clark Jamboree,” 1955. From left: Casey Clark, Dick McCobb, Brownie Reynolds, Don Hemminger, Buddy Emmons, Smitty Smith, and Herb Williams. Source: Craig Maki, courtesy Clark family

 

Notes

  1. Buddy Emmons interviewed by Keith Cady in 2007.

 

6 Comments to "Salute to Buddy Emmons in Nashville"

  • September 17, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Wow – another great job reporting on the music we love!

    • September 17, 2013 at 9:49 am #

      Thanks, Drew! My pleasure. I welcome readers’ suggestions too, if you hear of similar events in the future.

  • September 28, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    Emmons is responsible for the pedal steel as we know it today through his early innovations with pedals and collaboration with Shot Jackson bringing it to market. In my opinion, just as Les Paul changed the guitar world forever, Buddy helped transform lap slide guitar into a technically sophisticated instrument of amazing adaptability that is a very important force in contemporary music–from Texas swing to Nashville country to straight up jazz. As Bela Fleck has done with the banjo, Emmons has shown the amazing versatility of the instrument. I especially love the tracks he cut with the Manhattan Transfer.

  • Matt Merta
    October 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    The Americana Music Association helped put this together with the HOF. The AMA has been in existence since 1999 and has done a lot in the past decade to promote traditional country music that today’s radio stations have ignored. In the past, the AMA has had such great moments as Johnny Cash’s and June Carter’s last public performance among others. We have our conference every year the third weekend of September. I recommend anyone interested in learning more to check out the AMA website at http://www.americanamusic.org .

    • October 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

      Thanks for setting the record straight, Matt. The AMA does good work, and when combined with the Hall of Fame, the results are spectacular.

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