Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Major Loss in Country Music

Category: Obituary

It is with tremendous sadness that I report the death of Don Helms.

Don died Monday (August 11) in Nashville of an apparent heart attack.

If you've heard any country music in the last 50 years, you've heard Don Helms. He was a steel guitar player who performed on countless sessions. His best-known riff could well be the opening music of "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams, Helms' primary employer for five years.

In 1981, Helms made an appearance on Hank Williams Jr.'s album The Pressure is On, on the song "The Ballad of Hank Williams." "Don," Williams began, "tell us how it really was when you were working with Daddy." Helms then launched into a funny, and true, account of life as a member of the Drifting Cowboys Band to the tune of "The Eighth of January" (the same melody featured in "The Battle of New Orleans"). Helms lamented (with tongue firmly in cheek) that, while "Hank played nothing but sold-out halls", he found himself "pumping gas in greasy overalls 'cause he fired my ass and he fired Jerry Rivers...and he fired some people that he didn't even know."

Don Helms was 81.

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