Buddy Emmons What Other People
Are Saying About
Buddy Emmons
The Big E

Ernie

First I have to apologize to Buddy.  For all of you that know him, he gets embarrassed by anything that calls attention to him.  For that, Buddy, I am really sorry.  I just wanted you to know what your friends think of you and your accomplishments.  I am in NO WAY suggesting that your career is over.  Not hardly...

As webmaster for the site, I am a little bit prejudiced.
 I have also read all the writings below.
I agree with every word, and more!
I'm extremely proud to call you my friend!
Here's to you, Buddy!

- Ernie Renn -

I met Buddy around 1971 in Nashville at the DJ convention, I was 11 years old. He made a life long lasting impression on me, both personally and musically. In my opinion his talent and contributions to the pedal steel guitar will go unmatched forever. I feel very fortunate to know he is one of my few mentors, hero and teacher, but also my friend. He has been available to me when I needed wisdom and advice, and for this, I'll be eternally grateful to Buddy Emmons. Respectfully,

- Tommy White -

Tommy White

Dewitt "Scotty" Scott

Buddy Emmons is a genius! I have sat with him many times in a motel room and heard him just "diddle around" on the steel guitar. He would come up with things that seemed to me impossible to play on the steel guitar. I have seen Buddy play on a steel guitar that was suspended over his head looking up at the guitar (and the fret board had fallen off) and he never missed a lick. I’ve seen him play the steel guitar when he was picked upped physically and was suspended in the air looking down at the steel guitar and he never missed a lick. I’ve seen him playing the steel guitar when he was actually sitting underneath it and all you could see was his hands on the guitar and he never missed a lick. I seen him stand in front of the steel guitar with his hands behind his back and he never missed a lick. The word "genius" extends further…he could have been a successful singer, a successful disc jockey, and a professional photographer. He would have gone to the top of his field in any career he chose. Listen to his bass playing…absolutely professional!  What would be your response to the statement, "Buddy Emmons has forgot more about the steel guitar than most players ever knew"? Good question. I think Jimmy Day had the best answer of all, "No he hasn’t"!

- Dewitt "Scotty" Scott -

The name Buddy Emmons in the steel guitar world means jazz innovator, improvisationalist and inventor. He changed my way of thinking about the steel guitar. Buddy has always been my hero from the first time I heard him when I was twelve years old. He is a master at creativity in touch and tone. I think he will go down in history as being one of the early innovators on the steel guitar. 

 - Doug Jernigan

Doug Jernigan

Darrell McCall

I feel like I am the " luckiest" and "smartest" guy in the world. Smartest, because I know how GREAT the BIG "E " is. Luckiest, because he has been my dear friend for forty-two years. There is not another one like him. He has been an inspiration to millions, I can’t imagine what direction country music would have taken without him. Just remember he ALWAYS keeps a reserve. I love the BIG "E"!

- Darrell McCall [JOKER] -

Hi Buddy, This is just a note to say how much I appreciate you. Ever since I met you in South Bend in January or February 1953, you have been my idol and friend. I've always considered you my friend even though we traveled different paths and never got to "chum" around together. I always took it for granted that I was your friend. I really learned a lot from you down thru the years. I never tried to play like you even though I wish that I could, I knew that was impossible. I learned some of your licks but they never come out the way they do when you play them. Ha! It's just little things like playing one or two notes and making them mean more than 50. No matter where I see you, you always have time for a little chat. I know these things are minute but they mean a lot to me. I am always glad to tell people that I met Buddy when he was 17 years old and had just learned to play a diminish. And you had. I'm sure you probably don't remember it after all these years but my cousin brought me up there to look for a playing job which never happened because we spent all of our time at your house. Ha! You had just learned to play a diminish and you were showing us how to do it and we didn't even know what a diminish was. LOL I won't keep on elaborating on all of the little things that you imprinted in my mind but you did make a big impression on my mind even to the point that when I would play a phrase or lick; in the back of my mind I would think, "I wonder how Buddy would have played this." I know that sounds silly, but it is true. Well, I'll get out of here. I just wanted you to know that I am proud to know you and I want to thank you for being my friend. I love ya',

- John Hughey -

John Hughey

Speedy West

I met Buddy at one of the DJ conventions in the 50's. We have been friends ever since. I believe that most all steel players would agree that he has been and still is the best in the world for the last 30 years or more. He has a very distinctive tone and sound as well as a style that is recognized by all. Buddy can play country, western swing, or jazz, and his playing fits all types of music like a glove. Buddy, I regret that we didn't have the opportunity to be around each other more through the years. I love you man -- for the person and friend you are, as well as the great music you have given to us to enjoy for always. Love,

- Speedy West -

When researching history and those who have made positive contributions, it becomes apparent, those who are visionaries and leaders achieve a place in history. Although the number of people who do so is few, they shape the future of many.  Buddy Emmons has secured his place in history by creating an indelible mark with his contribution to steel guitar, which will always remain as long as steel guitar is being played.

- Maurice "Reece" Anderson -

Maurice Anderson

Jay Dee Maness

It’s because of Buddy Emmons that I started playing Emmons guitars some 32 years ago. When I was going to go to work with Buck Owens in 1969, Buddy loaned me one of his personal black guitars. Some of you may remember it was the one with a Sho-Bud teardrop knee lever on it. There was never a mention of any time limit on how long I could keep it. I wish I still had it. I will always cherish this act of goodwill by Buddy to a young steel player he hardly knew at all. We have down through the years, become good friends and that I very much cherish also.

- Jay Dee Maness -

I have many steel guitarists that I admire, but if I had to pick one who would be at the top of the list, it would have to be Buddy Emmons. I have been following and trying to copy Buddy's playing since the late fifties and I still admire what he has done and is still doing for steel guitar. I don't want to sound to mushy, but I mean every word I am saying. In my opinion, Buddy has contributed more to pedal steel than any other player, plus he has always been and still is at the top of my list when it comes to tone, touch, taste, attack, drive, phrasing, creativity and I could go on and on. In my opinion, Buddy Emmons is the "King" of pedal steel guitar and always will be.

- Herby Wallace  -

Herby Wallace
Norm Hamlet Buddy Emmons is a creator. For the more than 40 years that I have known of Buddy Emmons, he is the one that every pedal steel guitar player would like to emulate. Tone, phrasing, expression, soul, you name it and he has what we are all looking for. No matter whether it is E-9th or C-6th or any other tuning he is working on, it will soon be at his command. However, I feel that all he has learned about the pedal steel guitar didn't come easy for Buddy. Some people would say he is talented and gifted and that is true. As we all know Buddy has put in countless hours of practice to develop the touch and control he has perfected on the pedal steel guitar. All of us know of the pedal steel guitar that he designed to improve our sound and to make playing easier for us. We are still searching for the tone and sound that he developed a long time ago. I can not leave out the tunings and steel accessories he has had a hand in to make the steel guitar better. Thank goodness we have had Buddy Emmons as an example to show us what we have to do to improve and perfect our own individual sound. I salute you Buddy and if I wore a hat, it would be off to you. Thank you.

- Norm Hamlet -

Although Buddy Emmons had been a musical hero of mine since my high school days, (early to mid 1960s), I never had a chance to work with him until the mid 1970s, when we did a few Bill Anderson sessions together. He was affable, though somewhat distant. This was still the case after I got off the road in 1976, and we would meet in the studio on a somewhat regular basis. Looking back on the situation now, I'm sure that he probably would have "warmed up" to me sooner, had I not been absolutely petrified by being in the same room with him! After all, he had worked with some of the best guitar players in the world, and the best I could hope for was that he wasn't laughing inside at my attempts toward musical adequacy. The first time Buddy phoned me to play on a Swing Shift album will forever be one of the happiest days of my life! It was indeed an honor and a privilege to be involved in all of the projects that followed. Buddy was very patient with all of us musicians. He virtually had to teach me and some of the others many of the tunes that we recorded. He also was very helpful in showing us a lot of the harmony lines to play. For including me in the Swing Shift Band, for his longevity, for his sick sense of humor, and for just being a good friend, Buddy will always remain a hero to me.

- Gregg Galbraith -

Gregg Galbraith
Herb Remington Having just achieved my 75th birthday, I can honestly say that a large number of those years have been spent admiring the talents of one Buddy Emmons. Always innovative and original in his musical skills - and NEVER EQUALED - I am one of his myriad fans and always will be. He's recognized around the world as the absolute best in the steel guitar business. I am proud to be his friend. Sincerely,

- Herb Remington -

I first saw Buddy play live when I was 14 or 15 years old in St. Louis.  I had heard him on records and the Midnight Jamboree.  But in no way did those formats do justice to hearing him live.  He played with pure emotion, something I had not heard anyone do at the time.  That made me realize there was something more than just playing notes, but letting what was deep inside of you come out in your playing.  It was contagious!  I wanted it too, as did everyone else who heard him.  There is a phrase in a Joni Mitchell song that goes: "If love is touching souls, then surely you've touched mine.  Because part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time."  What he played, he did for the pure love of the instrument and the music. I along with thousands of others have been touched by Buddy's playing.  Every time I play my guitar, Buddy's influence on me can be heard, as it is with almost everyone who plays a pedal steel guitar.  I can't think of a higher level of success a musician could ever hope to attain.

-
Randy Beavers -
Randy Beavers
Laney Hicks (and The Big E!) In 1967, I saw my first Nashville recording session.  The steel player was none other than Buddy Emmons, and I noticed how much better the singer sounded when "he" was playing.  It was a magical, unforgettable day for me and the initiation of a "dream" as I determined then that if I ever got to record "for real like that" that I'd want Buddy Emmons playing steel on "my" session!  I was ten; (he was but a mere "babe" himself).  Almost exactly ten years later, I had the privilege, thanks to Monument records, to record "for real like that", and my only request when they were booking the sessions was that they call Buddy Emmons to play steel.  When word got back to me that he was "unavailable", I was truly disappointed.  (Over the years, I've envisioned him hanging out, jamming somewhere with Jimmy Day, not wanting to be bothered on the day of my session...)  Well, a few years passed---okay, quite a few years passed! But, not the "dream". During a recent St. Louis Steel Guitar Convention, Russ and I sat enjoying Buddy's set, as always, when he introduced a new song he'd just written;  "didn't even have a name for it yet", so he called it, "THE NAMELESS SHUFFLE".  It had the familiar beloved shuffle "feel" that we "country folk" love best of all, enhanced melodically by the sweet, smooth simultaneously multi-directional movement of notes characteristic of the noted, emotional Emmons style.  And, that's as "technically" as I can attempt to express what really means to me that I just love what it sounds like when he plays.  I put some words to his song, and Buddy graciously agreed to record "A Love Like This/ Nameless Shuffle" with me.  I tried not to let on that I was beside myself to at last be in the studio with "him", but he must have known because I could hardly speak a word during the session, and that never happens to me!  And, regarding my elation over having "penned" a song with Buddy Emmons.  Well, I think that was just God's way of making it up to me for keeping me waiting so long on that "dream" of mine.  From a genuine fan who thanks and loves you, Buddy,  God bless you and Peggy.

-
Laney Hicks -
I can't hope to be able to put into words what's been in my soul for all these years concerning this man, but I want to try.  In 1957 in Beckley, W.Va., Little Jimmy Dickens came to town to play a March of Dimes Telethon on the local TV station. He had his band, The Country Boys, with him... twin lead guitars-Spider & Howard, bass-Joel Price, no drummer, and playing a triple neck Bigsby was Buddy Emmons. I didn't watch them on TV, I was there in the studio audience watching every move he made, not believing my eyes or ears. The parts he played with the guitars;  the solos he played by himself; it was all so unbelievably amazing to me; I can safely say that my life to this day has never been the same. I was playing lead guitar at the time with a R&R band and had just bought a new Gibson Les Paul (Fretless Wonder). After 'experiencing' the Country Boys and Buddy Emmons that weekend, a few days later I quit the R&R band and traded the guitar for a Gibson Electraharp and set out on the same road I travel today, which is mostly trying to pull out of my steel just a semblance of what I heard him play in 1957. However, at that same time my ego allowed me to set a goal for myself, and that was for someday Buddy Emmons to know my name. Well, I came to town ten years later and a little while after that Jimmy Crawford, myself, and Buddy Emmons formed a publishing/production co. Pixenbar Music, and during that same time I was lucky enough to record an album with him and Jimmy and John Hughey and Sonny Garrish called The Nashville Bar Association. Who says dreams can't come true.  In 1967 I was on the road with Connie Smith and we were in the middle of a tour with Ray Price in California. Buddy was with Ray and on one of their nights off Buddy and a couple of Ray's boys flew to Vegas to 'roar'... well, Buddy missed his flight back to the gig and I 'sat in' for him... the next day he thanked me and paid me 40 dollars... of course I didn't want the money but he insisted and I took it, and I'm glad I did because I still have those two twenty's.  I've discovered thru the years that there's probably only a handful of people who have gotten really close to Buddy, but I'm satisfied just to have been able to be around him, what little time that's been, and to know he doesn't mind me calling him my friend. To me, Buddy Emmons is the 'reason'... he's the reason a lot of us do what we do for a living... and he's the reason steel guitar is what it is today.

-
Russ Hicks -
Russ Hicks
Mike Cass When I first saw Buddy Emmons, he was at the Minnesota State Fair in 1965 or '66 with Ray Price & THE Cherokee Cowboys. My folks took me to see him & I'll never forget the sound he got, the taste & chops he displayed , the look of that new Emmons guitar he had designed & the fun he was having... more than should be allowed by law, it seemed !!  I have followed his career since the late  50's when my Dad first bought me a steel guitar. I remember hearing all those great hits on the radio as they came out through the years...... "Half a Mind" , "Rainbow at Midnight", "Night Life", "The Other Woman", "A Way to Survive", "Touch My Heart", "Don't Touch Me" with Jeannie Seely, "Sound of a Heartache" with Johnny Bush, "Someday Soon" with Judy Collins, & the albums Buddy recorded with scores of other great artists... Darrell McCall, Faron Young, Danny Gatton, the Gatlin's, Roy Head, Roger Miller, Billy Walker, Ronnie Blakley, Gram Parsons, etc etc etc .... !!!  Three things have always stood out in my mind about E's playing ....his flawless taste , touch & tone..... not to mention his intonation & sense of humor..!!!!  He has the innate ability to positively inject his personality into any musical situation he's involved in at the time...no doubt the reason for his long standing ownership of the title  "The Worlds Foremost Steel Guitarist" .....& rightly so !!!  Personally, I owe the man a great deal.  When I moved back to Nashville in the early eighties I was working for Phil Baugh doing his cartage & I booked sessions & watched the phone at the "Sound Factory" studio . I had expressed a desire to Phil that I might one day be able to discover some of what made Buddy tick on the C6 tuning...... He called Buddy & asked him if he would give me C6 lessons !!!! After thinking about it for a while, Buddy acquiesced & there began the start of my re-education on the steel guitar.  I cant begin to express just what the time he has taken with me over the years has meant to me both personally & professionally . I have been thrust into musical situations from time to time since then that would have eaten my lunch, were it not for his patience, knowledge & guidance . I consider it the greatest honor of my life to have had E & Peggy recommend me to Ray Price , Darrell McCall & Clinton Gregory when they were looking for someone to play steel on their shows .  As for what Buddy means to me personally, ....You'll never find a nicer, more genuine, loyal, consistent & funnier guy than Buddy Gene. Many of the hours I've spent with him in his basement over the years, have been filled with laughter.  Vassar Clements once told me that the two funniest guys he ever knew were Buddy & Uncle Josh Graves. He warned me however, to avoid being in the same room with both of them at the same time, if I had anything of  importance to accomplish in the near future !!!!!  I feel privileged & honored to be able to contribute these words about a fellow who has meant alot to me from the time I was 6 years old . I'm sure that had it not been for Buddy , like many, many others, I would not have chosen the Steel Guitar as the medium in which to try to express myself musically .....but he makes it look like SO much fun !!!! My best wishes to you Buddy & Peggy for your continued success, health, humor & happiness. . P.S. A word to the wise: E isn’t even NEAR being through messing with our ears & minds yet. I could tell you true stories of what I've heard him play in his basement, but I’m sworn to secrecy. And that’s one oath I intend to honor! Sincerely,

- Mike Cass -

While on vacation I was lying on a beach in Santa Monica California and heard "Half A Mind" by Ernest Tubb and my first impression was that Jerry Byrd had gone to pedals. Shortly afterwards I had brought an old Fender 1000 to Nashville for some repair work and David Jackson (Shot's son) kindly called Buddy at his home in Madison and asked if it was o.k. for him to drive me over to meet him. He said "sure" and we spent the entire day together and every year since 1958 I would ride a Greyhound to Nashville from Montreal and we would always spend some time together at his house. He once showed me the wood moldings that were to eventually become the Emmons Stereo pedal steel. I can remember one particular night like it was yesterday when Buddy and Day had their steels set up back to back on the top floor of Tootsie's (a real small room on the third level). Buddy would play a new lick he had just come up with and turn to Day and say "Smoke that!" Day would play back the same lick and add a little something to it and say, "Smoke that!" This went on for hours. They also played Danny Boy, Greensleeves, and several other tunes which absolutely knocked me out. I have been fortunate to see him play with the Texas Troubadours when Leon Rhodes was in the band, and also with Ray Price. I was in the Ernest Tubb record shop in the front row when Ernest did the intros and the audience applause was recorded for the future "Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree" album. I have never seen the Everly Bros. shows but I understand that he shines brilliantly as always. Without exception Buddy has always treated me like a good friend throughout the 43 years I have known him and has always gone out of his way to help me every which way that he could. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in the world. I wish Buddy and Peggy all the best and sincerely hope that each day will bring better and better things into their lives. For any of you that haven't had a chance to meet him, do yourselves a favor. You'll never meet a nicer human being.

- Neil Flanz -

Neil Flanz
Johnny Bush Buddy Emmons and I have been friends for many years, and when we were Cherokee Cowboys, we were roommates.  It was during this period that Buddy, A.K.A. "The Big E", "Dirty Bud", etc., gave birth to the Emmons guitar.  I called it the "IMMACULATE CONTRAPTION".  This revolutionized the industry.  The prototype was delivered to Bud in Charlotte, NC, where we were doing a package show with Ray Price and many others.  It was clean and beautiful, but it looked out of place for Dirty Bud to have a horn that nice, so I tried to give it some character by burning it with a cigarette, but it wouldn't burn.  He had covered it with formica.  He is a genius, and that's why he's the big shot of the wagon and we call him the wagon wheel.  (Only Buddy will know the significance of this statement.)  All seriousness aside, what can I say about Buddy that he hasn't already said about himself.  But I'll try...  Besides being the best steel guitarist that ever lived, another of his greatest attributes is total honesty; honesty to the point of being brutal.  If you're not ready to hear the truth, don't ask Buddy.  I think this total honesty, and the lack of diplomacy and/or political correctness, i.e. "bullshit", may have been a hindrance to him with the recording studio heads.  But in my opinion, that honesty comes through in his playing, and that's what is important to me.  I love him in spite of his no-faults.

- Johnny Bush -

Being mainly a dobro player, I feel a little strange among all the truly great pedal steel players represented here, but I have been so touched and inspired by Buddy's playing over the years that I felt honored and almost compelled to say out loud what I think to myself everyday….. If I were in charge of things, I would have a huge statue of Buddy Emmons carved in the finest granite and placed in a prominent place along Music Row in Nashville. Country music just isn't country music without a pedal steel, and the pedal steel simply would not be what it is without Buddy's involvement over the years. In addition to this, of course, Buddy can play in any style of music, so I guess we'll need some statues in places like New York and L.A. as well. I don't really even have to mention his tone or taste or the fact that he's an actual musical genius… all steel players know this is true, almost beyond belief. Even dobro players know it. Buddy… thank you for the many years of inspiration and for sharing your wonderful talent with the world. I wish you many more years of health and happiness and continued unparalleled playing.

- Mike Auldridge -

Mike Auldridge
Bob Hempker When I think of Buddy Emmons, I think of how well he plays EVERYTHING. We can talk of certain stylists, and how well they play this or that type or style of music, but almost without question, when asked; "Who plays everything the best," myself included, have to answer; Buddy Emmons. I know of no other steel guitarist that I can say that about. A few come close, but Buddy is the Ace.

- Bob Hempker -

Once in a great while, a musician comes along whose style is so revolutionary and compelling that everyone involved in music turns their heads and realizes that now there is a new way to play and a new standard with which to compare ourselves. Louis Armstrong comes to mind, as does Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane. My personal feeling is that for steel guitar, Buddy Emmons is the single most deserving player in the history of the instrument to be placed in that lofty category. His music is the lighthouse that guides our musical ships back to safe harbor.

- Herb Steiner -

Herb Steiner
Walter Haynes I don't think in our lifetime we'll ever hear a talent such as Buddy. He is dedicated to the steel guitar and his mind is far above any of ours. Buddy and I have been friends since the fifties, when I left the Jimmy Dickens show Buddy took my place and he has blown me away ever since! We used to hang out together a lot in those days and even thought about building steel guitars ourselves. I was busy doing sessions and Buddy had his thing going, neither one of us had the time to get it going. We might have turned out a monster guitar, who knows!! Anyway, he has come such a long way in developing a style over the years and I don't think anyone will ever be able to surpass him.

- Walter Haynes -

There's not much left to be said that has not already been said, literally or graphically, about Buddy Emmons. There's not much left to be done with a steel guitar that Buddy hasn't already done, even before the rest of us might have thought of it. In the world of steel guitar, Buddy Gene was, is and always will be the "Immaculate Conception". In the world of friendship, the "Big E", well, what can I say other than, "He's the best there too".

- Bobby Bowman -

Bobby Bowman
Bud Carter Writing a note of tribute to Buddy Emmons is not hard to do. There are so many things a person can say that would heap the honors on him that he so richly deserves. The first time I heard Buddy play, I was so impressed that I had to reconsider my commitment to the steel guitar. At that time, I was playing both guitar and steel. When I met him in person I was not let down one bit because Buddy is what he plays: a soulful, imaginative, and deliberate person, as well as player. His knowledge of steel guitar does not end there. He understands both the top side and underside mechanics. He has taken time to help me in my efforts many times when he really did not have to do so. I really appreciate that. Any tribute written and directed toward Emmons is well deserved. And as far as I'm concerned, Buddy is the "Man of Steel" and always will be.

- Bud Carter -

Of course, when you get involved in steel, you hear about Buddy.  First saw him at St. Louis in 1974 and was blown away. When I decided to write the "book" I asked him if he would be willing to write an intro. He asked me to send him a manuscript. I did. And he wrote something.  When I visited Nashville in the summer of 1975 I finally met him personally, and had a great time talking about all sorts of things, very little of it having to do with steel. I found he is a man of many interests, intensely curious about everything, and has a great sense of humor.  When he came to play a show in Connecticut in the early 1980, it fell to me to drive him to the airport in New York. In the course of the hour we found that we both loved photography and we both had darkrooms. We spent much of the trip discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the 35mm format compare to the 2 1/4 format of the Hasselblad or the larger format which was being promoted by Pentax in a large single lens reflex.  It was a great drive.  ***  I recall Buddy spinning the bar at some show, and someone asked him how to do that. "Ah," he said. "That's nothing but a rhinestone-lick."  ***  When I first went to Nashville, I was at a studio session with Lloyd Green, and he introduced me to a band who had driven in from North Dakota or somewhere, to see the whole scene. He suggested I show them the rough of my book.  We were flipping through the photos, and they stopped at the picture of Buddy. "Who's that?" they asked. "Buddy Emmons," I replied. They got really silent. It seems that they had been at a studio session that morning, and Emmons was the player. They had no idea who he was, and had no one to ask. All they saw was this guy come in, set up a pretty old Emmons, and play some tasty licks when they were called for. They thought, "Gee. There sure are a lot of good players in this town." Yup.

- Winnie Winston -

Winnie Winston
Dan Tyack It's hard to do a tribute to a musician like Buddy Emmons. He is a musician that has not only shaped the way I play but has fundamentally changed the instrument. Maybe it's easier to talk about what Buddy is NOT. Buddy is not the consummate session musician. Not to say that Buddy hasn't played many, many sessions that have rocked the world. He has. Some of my favorites include "Someday Soon", "Touch My Heart" (along with a million other Ray Price ballads), "Night Life", "Gentle on My Mind" (on an early 80s album by John Hartford). But also his playing on a cut on an obscure Roy Head record with the coolest 'out of phase' Strat sound I have ever heard. Or his brilliant playing on a million other sessions. So why do I say he is NOT the consummate session musician? Because what I hear is his consummate concern for the music, rather than making the producer happy. He takes chances and breaks the limits like no other steel player. His honesty and feel outstrips many session players with many times the master session bookings. Buddy is not (yet) the consummate jazz musician. Not that he couldn't be, but he made the decision not to devote his life to playing jazz. But what a jazz feel the guy has. He single handedly brought bebop to the steel guitar, injecting that rhythmic intensity and harmonic complexity to the instrument. Buddy has the heart and technique to do whatever he wants with the steel. I am convinced that we haven't even started to see what Buddy is capable of as a jazz musician. So what is it about this guy that captivates us all? Buddy's heart. His funky phrasing. His drive. When it comes down to it, there's nobody that I would rather hear on a rainy Seattle night. Or a sunny Seattle morning. Or any time, any place, for that matter.

- Dan Tyack -

Webster's dictionary contains many words. Many of these could easily be defined by simply using two words, "Buddy Emmons". Ones that immediately come to my mind are, innovator, inspiration, educator, taste, tone, and equally important, friend, to the steel guitar community. I met Buddy for the first time when I was 16 years old and was invited to stay at the home of the late Shot Jackson. I was in awe of him then, and I've continued to be in awe of him 30+ years later. Jay Dee's story reminds me that as he joined Buck Owens, and Buddy introduced him to his Emmons, JayDee continued that gesture when I joined Buck and he introduced me to my first Emmons guitar in 1972. I am proud to play his last name each and every day. May he continue to be the mark for many years to come, that we all inspire to obtain to, as he continues to share his thoughts, ideas and knowledge with us.

- Jerry Brightman -

Jerry Brightman
Bill Lawrence Some twenty years ago, Buddy and I met almost daily, and I always admired his sort of humor. At one occasion, we went together to the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California. During the show, Downbeat Magazine had a big event featuring Peter Nero. After a short conversation, I convinced them to put Buddy on stage right before the main attraction. Though Downbeat is the leading national jazz magazine, I had the idea that any well-performed music could blow the roof off. Now, I suggested to Buddy to close his performance with "Mansion on the Hill". On stage, Buddy played some of his swinging show pieces, and he had the room cooking. At the end, he went to the mike and said," Well.... you all know that the steel guitar is a jazz instrument, but it can also be used for country music!" He sat down and played "Mansion on the Hill", and when he played the pianissimo part, you could have heard a needle drop. The final chord was still standing in the room when the applause broke loose, ending with a very long standing ovation. Believe me, that night, Buddy Emmons was the main attraction!  We sure did have a lot of fun on that trip, and this event was the highlight for me. But to top it all off, on the way back home, a large group of guys got on the plane sitting near me. I asked one of them what group they're in, and he told me that they were the Pittsburgh Steelers. I thought to myself that they must have a pretty darn big steel guitar club in Pittsburgh, and I excitedly told him all about the show with Buddy. When he didn't react at all I finally asked him, "What kind of steel do you play?" When they told me who they were, we all got a good laugh. I must have been the only person in the US who didn't know that the Pittsburgh Steelers was a football team!

- Bill Lawrence -

My first introduction to Buddie Emmons was in 1955 in Norfolk, VA, while attending a rather large country music show. I was 14 years old and rode my new Vespa motor scooter to the show. I attended for the sole purpose of seeing the great Walter Haynes, who I knew had been playing with Jimmy Dickens. You can imagine my disappointment when the curtain went up and the band started playing Jimmy’s theme "Raisin’ the Dickens" with NO steel player. Suddenly, crashing from the wings came this tall, gawky, skinny guy with a cowboy hat carrying a triple neck Bigsby. He hurriedly sat down and proceeded to make me forget who Walter Haynes was, and every one else also! Unbelievable to say the least, only 17 years old and a terror. I spent the complete break between shows with him watching him practice. Upon leaving the show, I broke a break cable on my scooter. I proceeded to go back to Buddie and explained my problem. He immediately gave me a .060 bass string from his Bigsby. It would have worked fine however I preferred to drive home without brakes than to use up my prized souvenir from my new hero, Buddie Emmons! Still have that Bigsby string! Buddie has been very generous on other occasions when I was in need also. A very nice person in his very weird way! But then All steel players are a little strange. I’ve been told!

- Bobbe Seymour -

Bobbe Seymour
Mike Smith Jim Evans (Evans Amps) got me started on steel in 1970 and during that time, he was endorsing the Texas Troubadours and so I'd tag along with him whenever the band was playing within driving distance. Buddy Charleton was my first exposure to a BIG name and for several months, whenever I'd hear the name Buddy, I simply thought it meant Mr. Charleton (I'd not heard the name Buddy Emmons as yet. Can you believe that!?). Finally, Jim turned me on to the "black" Emmons album and WHOA, my future was changed forever. Buddy (E) could have stopped right there and my jaw would have stayed on the floor, but he just kept moving forward. Thank you Buddy for that relentless learning and growing. Your inspiration still lives within me. There are hundreds of Big E. stories out there, but my favorite involves something he said to a lady on an airplane whose child was being unruly. It went something like this..."Madam, if you can't control your child...." Well... I'll let Buddy complete that one if he chooses.

- Mike G. Smith -

Buddy Emmons is synonymous with the pedal steel guitar and its music. I cannot imagine what the steel guitar of today would be with regard to its construction and musicality without the Big E. When Buddy was just a teenager coming onto the national and international scene, he ALREADY was the most accomplished pedal steel player. As evidenced by his numerous innovations on his Bigsby pedal steel (Buddy, by the way, had to have his volume pedal placed out from under the steel to the right of the steel guitar legs because his legs were too long to fit under the steel!) and viewed as the leader when he played with "Little" Jimmy Dickens.  "Discovered" in Detroit by "Little" Jimmy Dickens (Dickens’ steel player Walter Haynes, another great, was ill in a hospital for several weeks necessitating the hiring of this local phenomenon), touring and recording with Dickens resulted in Buddy's meteoric rise of on the country music scene. In 1958 Ernest Tubb plainly stated that Buddy was the "best" of this new group of steel players to hit Nashville. Buddy Emmons "hit the ground running" when he arrived in Music City recording with the major artists of the day as well as recording his own instrumentals as a solo artist. Most of the artists Buddy recorded in studio and toured with are in the Country Music Hall of Fame today. This is a testament to the strong desire of the best of the best to have Buddy elevate their music. Roger Miller, a long time friend since the 1950's, told Buddy the he wished that he was as talented as Buddy in music. An astonished Emmons told Roger that he felt the same way about him! Johnny Bush, a friend since 1964, when they both were Cherokee Cowboys with Ray Price, recently said, "Buddy can do more with his feet than anyone can do with their hands! Buddy cut the title song of my first album in 1967 'Sound of a Heartache' and also 'A Moment Isn't Very Long'. He cut four songs on a recent CD of mine and I am still deeply affected by what he did on "I Wished I'd Seen Your Goin' Comin' ". Steel players are doing now what Buddy had already done in the 1960's." Many country artists feel blessed and immortal due to the steel guitar voicings placed on their records by Buddy Emmons.  Steel players are in awe of Buddy Emmons' innate abilities, talent and musical knowledge. When Scotty was touring with Buddy in the 1980s, he would say at Buddy's concerts, "There is no one like Buddy Emmons. He has a magic touch that no one seems to have. Every concert he always does something new.  I wouldn't miss a one of 'em." The great Jimmy Day said, "When I first met Buddy, he was doing all these single note runs that were out of sight. We became friends and would jam together by placing our steels facing each other and would pick for hours or days on end. I called this 'locking horns'. Buddy was the best I ever saw." Jimmy Day introduced Bobby Garrett, another giant, to Buddy in 1956. Garrett and Emmons even played together as Texas Troubadours for Ernest Tubb in 1959-60. Emmons made the cabinet and inlaid the names on the Sho-Bud pedal steels ordered by Garrett and Day in the late 1950s. Garrett said, "The way Buddy plays is almost inhuman and the envy of us all. He's the top of the heap as far as I'm concerned." In fact, the last St. Louis Convention played by Emmons and will ever be attend together with Emmons, Day and Garrett was something to behold. Buddy gave a concert to end all performances. Afterwards Jimmy said, "Buddy just outdid himself. He was so perfect, it was as if each note was individually gift wrapped!" Garrett then said, "I don't know if I have ever seen Buddy play any better. He just knocked me out!" Curly Chalker, another giant of the steel, said, "Buddy's style and my style are different, and I love everything he does!" One day in Nashville, Grady Martin called the house looking for a steel player to do a session. Jack Evins answered the phone and told Grady they were all jamming and drinking. Grady then asked who was the soberest of the bunch and Jack said Buddy. Buddy talked to Grady and said he'd be there in an hour. Ten minutes later Buddy called Grady back and cancelled.  I asked Buddy what guitar player impressed him up the most. Buddy said Danny Gatton. One time they were doing a gig together and were trading licks back and forth on an up tempo song. After playing Buddy then looked over to see what Danny was gonna do. Buddy was then astounded to see Gatton with his arms folded across his guitar, yet he could hear him playing! Buddy then realized that Gatton was using his delay electronics. He would play when Buddy was playing and then the delay would delay it until Gatton's turn came to play after Buddy! Thus, Danny could fold his arms and on his turn, the guitar sounds came out perfectly. Buddy, after realizing this, could take no more and just stopped playing. Buddy said Danny really got to him on that one! As Buddy said, "Danny just took it all out of me!"  The pedal steel guitar world today is mostly what Buddy Emmons envisioned and created over the last 45 years. From the Bigsby guitar he ordered, he mentally decided what a pedal instrument should be. When Buddy showed up in Nashville, he knew about design and the desire to constantly improve his own guitar and caught Shot Jackson's attention. They then designed the Sho-Bud guitar from scratch. Because Shot was so hard headed, Buddy went on to develop the Emmons guitar. Everyone knows the innovations Buddy developed on the E9th and C6th necks with tunings, pedal set-ups, etc. Buddy's signature riffs, licks, and single note improvisations have become the most copied and enduring. "If copying is the greatest form of flattery..."  I have always been astounded that the small town of Mishawaka, Indiana (something in the water?) produced Herb Remington, Buddy Emmons, and "Sneaky" Pete Klienow.  Buddy is currently touring with the Everly Brothers. When Don Everly introduces Buddy Emmons to do the instrumental, "Gonna Build Me a Mountain" (with Albert Lee on guitar), Don says, "Me and Phil were on the Grand Ole Opry as teenagers, but this man over there on pedal steel guitar was also a teenager and already there on the Opry. His name is Buddy Emmons and he is known as the "Maestro of the Steel Guitar" which he was instrumental in designing and developing. HE IS THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME! We are proud to give you, BUDDY EMMONS!!"  His eternal friend and fan,

- Wayne F. Yakes MD -

Wayne Yakes, MD
Koos Biel The first time I got interested in steel guitar was when I heard Tom Brumley play on the "Carnegie Hall" album of Buck Owens. At that time I had never heard of Buddy Emmons. It must have been around 1969 that I stumbled into an album of Ray Price, called "Another bridge to Burn". And I was blown away by the steel sounds that came to my ear. I didn't even know it was Buddy Emmons, because the liner notes didn't say. I completely fell in love with this style of steel playing.
Then a few years later, I was astonished by the steel on "Volcanic Action of my Soul", by Ray Charles, which was played with so much musical ability, that I hardly could believe it was that country instrument. Still no name in the liner notes.
Then, a buddy of a friend of mine came up with an album which he already had for a couple of years, called "Country My Way" by Nancy Sinatra. Again I was astonished, this time it said in the liner notes Buddy "E" Emmons on steel guitar.
Then it all came to me, this must be the genius I've been looking for.
All this had a tremendous influence on my own steel playing, and I want to thank Buddy for this. I'm so glad we finally got to meet in 1976 in St. Louis and became good friends.

- Koos Biel -

The first song I heard Buddy Emmons play was Raisin' The Dickens. It was around 1959 and it blew me away. I was just learning to play and he became my all time idol right away. The first time I saw him in person was with Ray Price when they came to Columbus, Ohio to play at the Frontier Ranch. I was in the house band and spent the day listening to him play live behind Ray. On my website, there is a picture of he and I taken on that day beside their old bus. Boy, were we young and skinny!! Several years later I went to work for George Jones (1964). I was playing an early ShoBud, nine string which became outdated. I then purchased an Emmons Guitar. Later I found out that is was the third one ever built. Buddy had the first one, Neil Flanz had the second and I had the third. 
The first time I was ever on the Grand Ole Opry with George Jones, as I was playing I sensed someone sitting down on either side of me. I looked and Jimmy Day was on one side and Buddy was on the other.....talk about pressure! Their intention was to initiate me I guess. Needless to say, I was nervous. 
Buddy is the main person that has brought the Steel Guitar to where it is today. Every steel player admires his talent and loves to hear him play. We would all love to play like Buddy. The clarity and tone is unmatched. He will always be someone that I look up to and admire. Thank you Buddy for being my hero.....

-
Sonny Curtis -
Sonny Curtis
Hoot Hester
Like every other musician in the world, I have the utmost admiration for Buddy Emmons. I first met Buddy in 1974 during a DJ convention. It was at the Merchants Hotel in Nashville and what a thrill for an unknown newcomer to get to meet Buddy and several other legendary musicians of the day. I'm sure he doesn't remember that brief moment but I do.  In 1980 I received a call one Sunday morning from Phil Baugh to play a gig that afternoon at the Opryland Hotel.  As it turned out, it was the first Nashville Alive Show that ran for two years on TBS out of Atlanta. The show was hosted by Ralph Emery and the band leaders were Buddy Emmons and Phil Baugh. I couldn't believe I had, by chance, backed in to an opportunity of a lifetime. Playing with the greatest country band in the world lead by Buddy Emmons and Phil Baugh. With in a year, if my memory serves me right, we became the band on That Nashville Music. An other TV show out of Nashville.  Along with a lot of recording sessions plus television, Buddy played a great part in helping me get a foothold in this business which also helped me feed my family.  I have produced several records on various people over the years and have used Buddy on a good number of them. It is amazing how he always knows exactly what to play and how to fit in to a track without getting in the way of everything else going on. You don't notice what all he has done on a track until you start mixing.  That is the mark of a truly great musician.  Even to this day, I am still in awe of Buddy and get a little nervous around him.

A deserving Legend, a good human being, and a friend.  Respectfully,

- Hoot Hester -

All the steel players in the world could never say enough good things about Buddy Emmons. He embodies all the things one would expect from the worlds greatest steel player, and even more. He backs it up with an enchanting performance, no matter how many times you have heard him. He is reserve and reclusive, as well he should be, because he can never have any peace with a clamber to talk and ask questions from all that see him. I kinda want to ask him things myself. His contribution to the art of playing the steel is tremendous.
His steel guitar set the mark for all other manufacturers to go by. His historic turns and rides are legendary as are his personal recordings.  His devotion to the steel guitar is unsurpassed. I am honored to call him my friend.

- Weldon Myrick -

Weldon Myrick
David Smith

Where do I start to talk about Buddy Emmons… When you get to work with your hero for 30 years, you accumulate a lot of good memories. I guess like everyone who loves steel guitar, you listen to Buddy’s “Black Album” until the grooves are gone!! I never imagined that one day I would actually get to work with him and become good friends with him. I got to meet him when he and Phil Baugh were with the Super Pickers band. They were recording and the bassist, Henry Strzelecki was running late, so they asked me to sit in until Henry got there. Wow!! They were cutting the old Bob Wills song, Roly Poly. Not long after the session, Phil and Buddy became band leaders on several syndicated television shows filmed in Nashville. That’s when Buddy and I became good friends. We would get together at his house and work on songs he was going to record, or play at a steel show, or just play in the basement for our own amusement!! I know it has been said a thousand times, but Buddy is without a doubt, the greatest steel guitarist there has ever been. His knowledge and innovation can’t be matched by anyone. Buddy has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. He has always treated me as family, and that is something I am thankful for everyday. And speaking of family, Peggy was a blessing to everyone she met. What an angel on earth!!  She always called me her “adopted” son. That’s an honor that has never been topped in my life. Over the years, Buddy has taught me more about music than I could have ever learned in school!! I’ve heard him play things that were seemingly impossible, and when you said something about it, he would just shrug it off. To think about the innovations he has created, are mind boggling!!! I’m very lucky to be able to work with Buddy, but even more so, call him friend.

- David Smith-

I first met Buddy in 1979 while I was still in jazz school in Texas, playing with Ray Price when he made the switch from an orchestra back to a country band. Ray kept some of us and hired musicians from Nashville, including Buddy. I didn’t know anything about the steel guitar and was excited about getting to hear some classic country steel playing. I was shocked when I heard Buddy play jazz, realizing that he played it with more soul and depth than the people I was learning it from, as well as many of my recording jazz heroes. He has always been one of the musicians I can count on one hand that are the true musical geniuses of our time. No matter what he plays it’s as musical as anyone could ever make it.
It’s still amazing to me that I got to spend so much time on the road with Buddy, hanging out and eating Blondie’s hot sauce. I attribute quite a bit of whatever success I’ve had to his support and encouragement, he has always been a true friend and mentor. Sincerely yours,

-Kerry Marx-

Kerry Marx
Sid Hudson Buddy and I have been friends for over 30 years. As a guitar player back in the 80s we played recording sessions together and traveled together. As a young guitar player I would copy his lines and use them on guitar. To understand how bright the man's mind is, you would have to REALLY get to know him. I am fortunate to have done that. Many of his intros, solos and instrumentals will prove to be timeless. Can you hum a Buddy Intro? You see what I mean? Buddy will go down in history with the likes of Babe Ruth or Miles Davis. I have heard him play as recent as 2012 and he can still make your jaw drop. He is a friend and one of the funniest guys I know.

-Sid Hudson-
It has taken me forever to write these few words that you are reading. Writing about a legend and innovator like Buddy Emmons doesn’t come easily, I quickly found out. The first time I ever spoke with Buddy was in 1983 when he called me for a session. I was about to walk out the door to meet a bus to go on the road for the weekend and the phone rang. When the voice on the phone said, “Rob, this is Buddy Emmons;” I thought, “Sure, it is!” Buddy said, “I want to know if you can do a session for me.” I said, “Sure, Buddy; when do you need to do it?” He said, “As soon as you can get here!”

I explained that I had to meet a bus and asked who I was going to miss recording with. He said, “Ray Charles.” I said, “The bus can wait; I’ll be there in 30 minutes!” When I got to the studio, Buddy greeted me and graciously introduced me to Ray. Shortly thereafter, everyone headed back into the studio, except for Buddy. He looked at me and said that there wasn’t a need for fiddle on the last song after all and how did I want to handle getting paid? I said, “You don’t owe me anything, Buddy. I’m honored that you called.” Buddy responded by thanking me for coming and said that if I ever needed him to play on something, he would do it for nothing.

Not long after that, I started doing TV shows with Buddy and the late, great Phil Baugh. I started recording what would turn out to be a series of swing albums with Buddy and Ray Pennington as a member of the Swing Shift Band. The reason I tell this story is that it goes without saying that Buddy Emmons is a genius. That has been written over and over again and deservedly so. But I also want to let people know what an incredible person he is. I never did ask Buddy to play on anything but, boy, he gave back to me tenfold! His generosity and heart during the swing sessions is immeasurable. I was definitely the student and he the professor. Never once did he show frustration toward anyone but himself, always putting immense pressure on himself to get it right and make it better. Truly someone to continue looking up to.

Before I ever started playing the fiddle, I had heard Buddy’s name and his music, never dreaming I would get to know him and play with him one day. With that said, I never thought anything could change my opinion of Buddy Emmons. But getting to know him has taken him way beyond genius and legend for me. I will always be in debt to Buddy for sharing his kindness, knowledge, and inspiration and I’m grateful to be able to call him a friend.

-Rob Hajacos-
Rob Hajacos
ALWAYS more to come!

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