Bill Emerson (musician)

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For the politician of the same name, see Bill Emerson.

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 Country Gentlemen and Emerson & Waldron.


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 Navy Band performing with them for the next twenty years. In 1992, the Stelling Banjo Company issued an Emerson signature banjo model.[2]


Emerson & Waldron[edit]

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

Bill Emerson[edit]

  • 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)
  • Bill Emerson & the Sweet Dixie Band (Rebel, 2007)
  • Southern (Rural Rhythm, 2010)
  • Eclipse (Rural Rhythm, 2011)
  • The Touch of Time (Rural Rhythm, 2012)
  • Dancin' Annie (Rural Rhythm, 2014)

Emerson and Goble[edit]

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


  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