Wednesday 15 May 2024

Lee Emerson born 15 May 1927

 Lee Emerson (May 15, 1927 – December 2, 1978) was an American music singer and songwriter. 

A native of St. Paul, Virginia, young Lee Emerson Bellamy joined the Marines at age seventeen and returned home a combat veteran. He married Roberta Smith, a Billings, Montana girl and moved west. Over the next few years, he moved around a great deal, played baseball, worked at various laboring jobs, owned and/or operated taverns, and often had a band that worked his clubs. 

Lee Smith

Professional musicians who dropped by his place of business often suggested that he should go to Nashville. Before doing so, however, he cut a single record in Cody, Wyoming for a label called Wagon Wheel under the name Lee Smith. Roughly in late 1954, it apparently served as an introduction for his entry into the Nashville scene. He dropped both Bellamy and Smith as surnames and was thereafter known primarily as Lee Emerson. 

Among the figures who befriended Emerson in Nashville were manager of various people Eddie Crandall, Bob Ferguson, and perhaps most significant future legend Marty Robbins. Through the influence of one or some of these people, Lee obtained a contract with Columbia and did his first session on June 23, 1955. While none of his own recordings became hits, a song recorded at his third session on September 4, 1956 was covered on RCA by Porter Wagoner: "I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name" who had a hit with it. Over the years, other artists also did well with the song including Jessi Colter. 


Emerson spent most of his early years in Nashville in the employ of Marty Robbins. The two worked numerous tours together and Lee, who was a relatively tough customer, acted as a bouncer and body guard. They even recorded a couple of duets together with a rockabilly flavor although neither charted. Somewhat later in 1963, Emerson's composition "Ruby Ann" became one of Marty's number one hits (although the credit was under the name of his wife Roberta Smith). 

Lee's contract with Columbia expired in 1957 and for the next few years, he took care of some of Robbins' business affairs. A single for Mercury in 1961 under the name Heywood Jenkins had an R & B flavor, but failed to revive Emerson's singing career. In 1962 his wife divorced him and moved with her son t o San Diego. Soon after the divorce from Roberta came the divorce from Marty Robbins. Their relationship had been strained for a while and in 1964 Emerson bought back his old copyrights from Robbin’s publishing companies. He continued to write songs that were recorded by name artists, but none were more than minor hits on the lower end of the charts. Lee Emerson's last recording was a single on Plantation in 1976. 

Lee with Roy Acuff

By 1976, Emerson went to Texas for a while, but by 1978 he returned to Nashville. There he became involved with an aspiring singer named Darlene Yvonne (Darlene) Sharp, who also became involved with Barry Sadler of "The Ballad of the Green Berets" fame. In September 1979, the two had a serious scuffle at the Hall of Fame Motor Inn and thereafter made serious threats to each other. 

On December 1, they had another fight which ended in Emerson having a fatal gunshot wound. He was shot in the front seat of his van that was parked at the Knollwood Apartments where Sadler was visiting Ms. Sharp. Mr. Sadler and Ms. Sharp had been to the Natchez Trace Lounge the previous night with friends.  

Sadler indicated that Emerson had been entangled with Ms. Sharp for more than a year, even running her off the road at one point and later, knocked down her apartment door. On December 1, 1979, Mr. Sadler was charged with second-degree murder, under a sealed indictment by the Davidson County Grand Jury. In May of 1980, he was sentenced to 4 to 5 years in prison. But in September 1980, his term was reduced to 30 days and a two year probationary period. Emerson's son, Rod Bellamy, later collected some money from Sadler in a civil suit. 

(Edited from


boppinbob said...

For “Lee Emerson - It's So Easy For You To Be Mean (2011 Bear Family)” go here:

01 - It's So Easy For You To Be Mean
02 - I Cried Like A Baby
03 - Where D'ja Go!
04 - You Call That Waitin'!
05 - I'm Gonna Rise And Shine Tonight
06 - I'll Know You're Gone
07 - Thank You My Darlin'
08 - So Little Time
09 - A Pair Of Broken Hearts
10 - You Don't Know
11 - How Long Will It Be
12 - What A Night
13 - Start All Over
14 - Catch That Train
15 - I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name
16 - Do You Think
17 - I Hate To Say Goodnite
18 - Forever Alone
19 - You Can’t Hear Me
20 - Lover Boy
21 - Totalin' Time
22 - You Can’t Hear Me (Take 4)
23 - Gospel Truth (Like It 'tis)
24 - Ten Thousand Crying Towels
25 - I’ve Thought Of Leaving Too
26 - Ben-Ja-Min Franklin
27 - I’m Gonna Go In Hiding
28 - I’m Keeping It To Myself
29 - Hossy Riding Police
30 - Truck Stop Cutie
31 - Thirty Blocks Across The City
32 - Waiting In The Shadows Late At Night
33 - Ain’t It Funny How Stripes Can Turn Love Off
34 - Sinner’s Corner
35 - Dreams Always Lie

A big thank you goes to Kenny for the loan of above album.

Bob Mac said...

Thanks for this Bob, seems like Lee lived a pretty full life.

T.G. said...

Thanks a lot!

Rob Kopp said...

Thanks, Bob

Willie1990 said...

Can I Ask You A Question Do You Have Charlie Phillips - Sugartime.. Bear Family. Please Forgive If This Is Not Allowed. Thanks. For Reading..

boppinbob said...

Hello Willie 1990, Strangely enough I will be posting about Charlie Phillips on his birthday which falls on the 2nd July, by that time I will have the album you requested. Regards, Bob