Bill Emerson (musician)

William Hundley "Bill" Emerson, Jr. (born January 22, 1938 in Washington, D.C.) is an American five-string banjo player known for being one of the founding members of the original The Country Gentlemen and Emerson & Waldron and considered one of the finest bluegrass banjo players in music history.

Note: The bluegrass musician named Bill Emerson written about on this biography page is often confused with another country musician named Bill Emerson (known as "Wild Bill Emerson") who was also born in 1938. As a result, bluegrass musician Bill Emerson is frequently incorrectly attributed to songs on various music databases (such as Discogs, AllMusic and Wiki) written by Wild Bill Emerson and/or his wife, Martha Jo "Jody" Emerson (who's often miscredited as "Jodie"). Wild Bill and Jody have written for many country artists such as George Jones, Hank Williams, Jr. and John Anderson.


Bill Emerson joined Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys in the 1950s. In 1957, when Busby was injured in a car accident, Emerson and Charlie Waller – who was also a member of the Bayou Boys – formed The Country Gentlemen.[1] Emerson's stint with the Gentlemen lasted until 1958 when he left the group and began working as a sideman. In 1962, he joined Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys where he remained until 1967 with the exception of a brief interlude with Red Allen between 1964–1965. In 1967, Emerson and guitarist Cliff Waldron formed "Emerson & Waldron" recording for Rebel Records.[2] The sound and repertoire of Emerson & Waldron was very similar to The Country Gentlemen often performing songs from contemporary rock, soul and country.[3] Three years later, in 1970, Emerson was back with The Country Gentlemen. In the absence of Emerson, Waldron renamed the group "Cliff Waldron and the New Shades of Grass.[4] When Emerson joined the Navy in 1973 he also joined the United States Navy Band performing with them for the next twenty years with their bluegrass ensemble Country Current. In 1992, the Stelling Banjo Company issued an Emerson signature banjo model.[2]


Emerson & WaldronEdit

  • New Shades of Grass (Rebel, 1968)
  • Bluegrass Country (Rebel, 1970)
  • Bluegrass Session (Rebel, 1970)

Bill EmersonEdit

  • Banjo Pickin' 'N Hot Fiddlin' (Coronet, 1963)
  • Banjo Pickin' 'N Hot Fiddlin' Vol 2 (Coronet, 1964)
  • Country Banjo (Design, 1969)
  • Home of the Red Fox (Rebel, 1987)
  • Gold Plated Banjo (Rebel, 1990)
  • Reunion (Webco, 1991)
  • Banjo Man (Webco, 1996)
  • Southern (Rural Rhythm, 2010)
  • Eclipse (Rural Rhythm, 2011)
  • The Touch of Time (Rural Rhythm, 2012)

Emerson and GobleEdit

  • Tennessee 1949 (Webco), 1987)
  • Dixie In My Eye (Webco, 1989)
  • Webco Classics Volume One (Webco, 1995)

Bill Emerson & Sweet DixieEdit

  • Bill Emerson & the Sweet Dixie Band (Rebel, 2007)
  • Dancin' Annie (Rural Rhythm, 2014)
  • The Gospel Side of Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie (Rural Rhythm, 2015)


  1. ^ Carlin 2003, p. 123.
  2. ^ a b Carlin 2003, p. 124.
  3. ^ Rosenberg 2005, p. 327.
  4. ^ Tribe 2006, p. 156.


  • Carlin, Richard (2003), Country Music: A Biographical Dictionary, Taylor & Francis
  • Rosenberg, Neil V. (2005), Bluegrass: A History, University of Illinois Press
  • Tribe, Ivan M. (2006), Country: A Regional Exploration, Greenwood Publishing Group

External linksEdit