In the late '50s, Emmons began playing occasionally with Ernest Tubb's band on Midnight Jamboree. In 1963, he began a five-year stint with Ray Price & the Cherokee Cowboys, and in 1965 teamed up with fellow steel player Shot Jackson to record the LP The Steel Guitar & Dobro Sounds. This led the two to create the Sho-Bud Company, which sold an innovative steel guitar that used push-rod pedals. In 1969, Emmons joined Roger Miller's Los Angeles-based band as a bass player. When not touring with Miller, he did session work for a variety of artists. He quit Miller's band in 1973 and signed a solo contract, releasing several albums in the late '70s.
After 1978, Emmons began playing for a number of small labels, where he and Ray Pennington occasionally collaborated with some of Nashville's finest sidemen as the Swing Shift Band. In 1993, Emmons began touring with the Everly Brothers. He continued to play in recording sessions throughout the '90s and into the new millennium, but was forced to stop playing around 2001 due to a repetitive motion injury. Emmons fully recovered but decided not to return to regular session work, preferring to record only with selected artists and to perform intermittently. He died in Hermitage, Tennessee, outside Nashville, in July 2015 at the age of 78. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi