The Big 'E'
October 17, 2014 2:05 PM   Subscribe

You can read on Buddy Emmons' Wikipedia page how by the age of 19, he had already mastered and redesigned the pedal steel guitar, slowly turning it into the instrument whose sound we are all familiar with, in one form or another. You can read on his website how his peers revere him, and how he gives back to the community whom he's profoundly influenced. (Or, watch a 100-minute concert and tribute.) But perhaps it's just best to marvel at The Big E as he backs up legends in their own right; on television in 1965; how he destroys the world in a 1970's Redneck Jazz Explosion (with Danny Gatton, previously); in the mid-'80's with the Lawton Jazz Kicks Ensemble; at the 1988 British Steel Guitar convention; at the at the 1997 International Steel Guitar Convention; and in 2007, the year he retired. Or just messin' around with Nashville's top session musicians or reinterpreting the classics. There's also a great AskMe thread of Pedal Steel Guitar recommendations, if you want to hear more.
posted by not_on_display (8 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Pedal steel is the most beautiful instrument in the world. Emmons is a national treasure. Thank you for this.
posted by mykescipark at 2:14 PM on October 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wish could share how I feel about the 1978 Cellar Door Redneck Jazz Explosion album with everyone I know. After two decades of fairly continuous listening, I have pretty much committed every note of that album to deep, deep memory.

Buddy's s ability to sound like a jazz guitarist on Song of India, and his ability to sound like a Hammond organ on the Killer Joe are equally unbelievable.
posted by sourwookie at 3:31 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Great great post and thank you! Didn't know nearly enough about this guy.
posted by stinkfoot at 3:50 PM on October 17, 2014

One of my heroes. Really learning to play steel (I can mess around a bit now) is one of my planned retirement projects.

Here is my favorite living player: Dicky Overbey.

Thanks for the post!
posted by spitbull at 4:35 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks for this fabulous post, a profusion of riches. You have made me very happy indeed!
posted by madamjujujive at 7:17 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

My Uncle is becoming a bit of a boutique pedal steel guitar builder. You can check out his guitars here. It's a fascinating instrument and it is pretty amazing to see the amount of precision machining that goes into building one of them.
posted by davey_darling at 8:01 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wonderful post. Nashville is often thought to be about the song, not the playing, and so it often is. But that just means that great players are all the more underrated.
posted by texorama at 12:23 AM on October 18, 2014

With pedal steel, like only a few other instruments, words are often unnecessary.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:24 AM on October 18, 2014

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