Legendary Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons Dies at 78

Buddy Emmons, one of the most legendary steel guitarists in history, has passed away.

"The World's Foremost Steel Guitarist" died July 29 at the age of 78. The accomplished musician was given a six-string lap steel guitar by his father at the age of 11 and instantly began to learn country music on the instrument. He left school at the age of 16 to pursue music as a career and was quickly spotted by Little Jimmy Dickens. Dickens invited him to Nashville, Tenn. where Emmons played the Grand Ole Opry and his career quickly skyrocketed.

"His execution was flawless, and his ideas were brilliant," steel guitarist Steve Fishell told The Tennessean. "It was like nothing ever heard before on the Opry stage. Buddy was dropped into the hottest band in country music, and it was an incredible launching pad for him."

In the next few years, Emmons played with Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours, Ray Price's Cherokee Cowboys, the Everly Brothers and Roger Miller. Throughout the later part of his career, he worked as a session musician for huge country artists including Willie Nelson and George Strait. Emmons formally retired from professionally playing music after the unexpected death of his wife, Peggy, in 2007. Even in retirement, he stayed active within the music community and made regular appearances on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion up until his death.

Buddy Emmons is survived by his two granddaughters, Crystal and Brittany, and two grandsons, Levon and Buddie III.

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Legendary Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons Dies at 78