Scotty Emerick didn’t have any choice. The Hollywood, Florida-born songwriter/guitarist was swept away by music, and before he’d even finished high school, he knew he had to go to Nashville and seek his fate. He says, “My father got me into Hank Williams Sr., then I graduated to Hank Jr... I was reading liner notes, who wrote all the songs, who played on everything.
I knew Nashville was where I could go for the same kind of music. I couldn’t get there fast enough.”
There was no looking back for the boy who knew of blazing honky tonk singer Gary Stewart, a mythic local hero, if only from the occasional sightings of the ragingly troubled country sensation in Vero Beach, where Emerick ultimately grew up. Stewart was emerging from a too combustive, failed-to-launch duo with future Country Music Hall of Famer Dean Dillon, the single most recorded writer in George Strait’s catalogue.
Ironic, as Dillon would become one of many mentors for Emerick, who would go on to assume the same role as Dillon in Toby Keith’s career. Laughing, the sandy-haired Emerick admits when talking about serving as the creative foil for the Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, “When I grabbed a guitar, it was 24/7. I slept with it. Toby and I’d do shows: I’d do my show, he’d do his, then we’d get back on the bus, and we’d be back at it. Just making up songs, it was so completely creative. That’s all we did, all the time... We sparked so much, it opened up my mind.”
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