Noted country musician and songwriter Bobby Emmons has passed away after battling an undisclosed illness.

Emmons died Monday evening (Feb. 23) at a hospital in Nashville, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. He was 72 years old.

According to his website, the musician was born Bobby Gene Emmons on Feb. 19, 1943, in Corinth, Miss., the son of Elmer and Minnie Emmons. He was a largely self-taught musician, getting his performing start in a high school string band contest. By 1959 he was playing professionally and landed a gig as a member of Bill Black's band from 1960-1963.

He performed on hundreds of concerts with Black in 47 states and overseas, and appeared in two major motion pictures before going on to a successful career in the house bands at Memphis' Hi Records and American Studios, two of the major hit factories of the 1960s and 1970s. Emmons played piano, organ and electric keyboards on sessions including Willie Nelson's albums Always on My Mind, City of New Orleans, Take It to the Limit, WWII (with Waylon Jennings), Pancho & Lefty (with Merle Haggard) and both Highwaymen projects. He also toured the world with the Highwaymen, in addition to recording with the Memphis Boys on Elvis Presley songs like "Suspicious Minds," "In the Ghetto," "Kentucky Rain" and many more.

Among his many hit songs as a writer were B.J. Thomas' "Help Me Make It to My Rockin' Chair," "Luckenbach, Texas," "Women Do Know How to Carry On" and "Wurlitzer Prize" from Jennings, "Love Me Like You Used To" from Tanya Tucker and George Strait's "So Much Like My Dad." Emmons received two Song of the Year nominations, was nominated for three Grammys, received six Citations of Achievement and three Millionaire Awards from BMI for radio airplay and was honored by Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) for "creative genius in words and music."

In recent years, Emmons played with Memphis-based soul singer Dan Penn, and he was involved with two Memphis Boys recording projects at the time of his death. Plans for a memorial service are pending.

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