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Bill Emerson

Bill Emerson - Banjo Man


“Bill Emerson is one of the most influential musicians in bluegrass. He began playing guitar in 1955 and banjo the following year, which was when he heard a performance by Uncle Bob & the Blue Ridge Partners on a Rockville, MD, radio station. He was so captivated by their sound that he went to the station to meet them, and was asked to join them. A few months later, Emerson joined Buzz Busby & the Bayou Boys. When an auto accident put Busby and some of the bandmembers out of commission, Emerson and bandmate Charlie Waller assembled a new band, the Country Gentlemen, to keep their booking at the Admiral Grill in Bailey’s Cross Roads, VA. They recorded three singles for Dixie and Starday, including “High Lonesome” b/w “Hey Little Girl.” In 1958, Emerson left the Gentlemen to play live gigs with the Stonemans, later playing with Bill Harrell, Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, and Red Allen & the Kentuckians. In 1963, he appeared on the Jimmy Martin album This World is Not My Home.
While playing with Allen, he recorded a few albums as Bill Emerson & His Virginia Mountaineers, including Banjo Pickin’ n’ Hot Fiddlin’ Country Style. In 1965, he left Allen’s band and rejoined Jimmy Martin’s for two albums. Emerson left again in 1967 and teamed up with Cliff Waldron to form Emerson & Waldron & the Lee Highway Boys. The group recorded three albums for the Rebel label, including Bluegrass Country. He returned to the Country Gentlemen in 1970, playing club dates and recording with them until 1972, when he was hit in the arm during a drive-by shooting as he and the band were leaving the Red Fox Inn in Bethesda, MD. He recovered fully and joined the U.S. Navy Band the next year. [more…]” – by Sandra Brennan, All Music