Bobby Emmons, the musician and songwriter who was a staple of the music scenes in Nashville and Memphis for decades, has died, according to a report in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He was 72 years old. Emmons was in a Nashville hospital receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness at the time of his death.
Born in Mississippi, Emmons began his career in Memphis, where he played with the Bill Black Combo and the Hi Records house band before joining the crew assembled at American Studios. Alongside the likes of Bobby Wood, Reggie Young, and Gene Chrisman, Emmons appeared on some of the biggest hits of the 1960’s and 1970’s, including Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds,” Dusty Springfield’s “Son Of A Preacher Man,” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Later in his career, Emmons focused on writing songs and became a hitmaker in Nashville as a result. The likes of Waylon Jennings (whose classic “Luckenbach, Texas” was an Emmons original), George Strait, and Tanya Tucker recorded Emmons’ songs. Most recently, Emmons was playing with Memphis soul singer Dan Penn; the pair appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman in December.