Steel Guitar Jazz

August 6, 2012


Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Buddy Emmons
Birth name Buddy Gene Emmons
Born (Mishawaka, Indiana, United States
Years active 1952–2015
Associated acts Little Jimmy Dickens, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, John Hartford, The Everly Brothers, many others

Buddy Gene Emmons (January 27, 1937 – July 21, 2015) was an American musician. He played several instruments, most notably pedal steel guitar.

Emmons was called the world's foremost steel guitarist and his talent was greatly admired by fellow steel guitarists. His musical versatility spanned genres such as country, swing, jazz, folk, and country-rock, and he has performed or recorded with a wide variety of vocalists and musicians including Linda Ronstadt, The Everly Brothers, Ernest Tubb, John Hartford, Ray Price, Judy Collins, and Lenny Breau. His innovative musical stylings ranged from tasteful ballad accompaniment and classical music to be-bop jazz, big band swing standards, and Western swing. He also made significant contributions to the design, development, and evolution of the pedal steel guitar as a musical instrument.

Childhood and early musical career[edit]

He was born Buddy Gene Emmons. When he was 11 years old, his father bought him a 6-string lap steel guitar and arranged for lessons at the Hawaiian Conservatory of Music in South Bend, Indiana, which Buddy dutifully attended for about a year. Buddy then began figuring out on his own how to play the country music that he heard on the radio. Buddy has said that Jerry Byrd and Herb Remington were among his first major musical influences. By age 15, Buddy's playing had progressed considerably and his parents bought him a triple-neck Fender "Stringmaster" steel guitar, and he began performing with local bands in South Bend such as The Choctaw Cowboys. Bored with high school, he left at age 16 and moved with a childhood friend to Calumet City, Illinois, where he was soon hired by Stony Calhoun to play in his band. At 17, he moved to Detroit to play with Casey Clark. During his stint with Clark, Buddy purchased a Bigsby steel guitar with pedals similar to the pedal steel guitar that Bud Isaacs had used on the Webb Pierce hit song "Slowly". (The pedals on a pedal steel guitar allow the player to change the pitch of one or more strings while playing the instrument. A separate volume pedal is also used, compensating for the attack and decay of the strings for a smooth, constant or creative near-constant volume.)

1955: Little Jimmy Dickens[edit]

The next year, Little Jimmy Dickens heard Emmons playing with Casey Clark and offered him a job with his band, so at the age of 18, in July, 1955, Emmons moved to Nashville. Dickens' band was then considered one of the hottest bands in country music, with complex arrangements and fast twin guitar harmonies. Dickens arranged for his band to record several instrumentals on Columbia Records under the name, The Country Boys. The first tunes recorded included three of Emmons' originals, two of which, "Raising the Dickens" and "Buddie's Boogie", quickly became a steel guitar standards.

Combined Guitar / Jazz / Steel - Sir Duke
Combined Guitar / Jazz / Steel - Sir Duke
Jim Cohen - Pedal Steel Guitar Jazz Demo (2m-5-1)
Jim Cohen - Pedal Steel Guitar Jazz Demo (2m-5-1)

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