Sign up for newsletter
 

Hank Williams pedal player Don Helms dies

Monday, August 11, 2008 – Don Helms, steel guitarist for Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys, died this morning at 81. He is featured on more than 100 Williams recordings. Helms played a lap steel (also known as "Hawaiian steel") guitar. This type of steel guitar lacks the foot pedals found on the more modern pedal steel guitar, which did not come into prominence in country music until after Hank Williams' death in 1953.

Born in New Brockton, Ala., Helms also played steel guitar on Lefty Frizzell's recording of "Long Black Veil." In the late 1950s, he can be heard on two early Columbia Records recordings of Johnny Cash's, "The Fabulous Johnny Cash" and "Hymns By Johnny Cash."

In the mid-1960s Helms played in the Wilburn Brothers backup band, The Nashville Tennesseans. Helms later was in the touring version of the Drifting Cowboys, the backing band for Hank's daughter, Jett Williams.

Helms, who also played for Hank Jr., also enjoyed success as a songwriter. He penned Brenda Lee's first number one hit "Fool Number One" in exchange for getting Loretta Lynn a recording contract with Decca Records. He also wrote "The Ballad of Hank Williams," which he performed with Hank Jr. on "The Pressure Is On" LP Released in 1981.

More news for Hank Williams

CD reviews for Hank Williams

The Garden Spot Program 1950 CD review - The Garden Spot Program 1950
In a career that spanned a mere six years - a minuscule amount of time compared to those who are today celebrating anniversaries of 40, 50 or even 60 years of more - Hank Williams established himself as an abiding influence on all those who followed, a man whose music is as relevant and revered today as it was when it was originally recorded. Indeed, what Williams accomplished in that scant amount of time still resonates nearly 70 years later. There's been an abundance of compilations, »»»
The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams CD review - The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams
"The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams" is a great story before you even start playing the music. Williams, according to the story, used to write down his lyric ideas in notebooks. When he died, there were four notebooks of unreleased or unperformed songs. Over the years, the notebooks remained in the possession of Williams' publishers Acuff-Rose and few knew of them. One who did, however, was longtime Nashville executive Mary Martin, who shepherded this project to its eventual light-of-day. »»»
Revealed The Unreleased Recordings CD review - Revealed The Unreleased Recordings
After his death in 1953, Hank Williams, became less a performer than a post-mortem brand name wherein his basic personality as an artist was increasingly downplayed and diminished. This remarkably enjoyable three-CD set, drawn from warmly remastered acetates - featuring occasional surface noise - of the old Mother's Best radio show, showcases much of that nearly lost essence. Supported by his regular collaborators the Drifting Cowboys, Williams brings surprising drive to live renditions his »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Lowe stands the test of time – The enduringly cool and dapper Nick Lowe spelled it out for the fans three songs in. One of music's finest popsters (among a number of other more roots-oriented other genres), Lowe said he and his backing band, Los Straitjackets, would dish out "golden oldies you might want to hear, some deep cut grooves, some covers and a few new ones.... »»»
Concert Review: Rich, Anderson, Denning pull it – Three diverse artists performing under the country rubric, who are trying to gain a foothold in the field, joined forces for a good old-fashioned guitar pull. And that may have been the best way for Tyler Rich, Abby Anderson and Travis Denning to showcase their wares. Rich has enjoyed the most commercial success of the three with his single "The... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time  Subscribe to Country News Digest  Follow Country Standard Time on twitter  Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook 

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Carll tells it like it is A visit with Hayes Carll finds him taking a rare day off at home to discuss new album "What It Is" co-produced by Brad Jones and Carll's girlfriend, Allison Moorer. "This album works around three themes; our relationship (he and Moorer), the world and myself.... »»»
Watson gets "Lucky" Dale (The Real Deal) Watson has been releasing hard country albums since 1995 and shows no signs of slowing down on his most recent release, "Call Me Lucky." This record marks his third effort recorded in Memphis, at Sam Phillips Recording Studio, with Watson's regular touring band, The Lone Stars.... »»»
The Long Ryders return to action The Long Ryders have come a long way since they were initially associated with other Los Angeles relatively retro acts collected under the Paisley Underground umbrella. Even back during the mid to late '80s,... »»»
Stronger Than the Truth CD review - Stronger Than the Truth
The beauty of Reba McEntire's albums flows from her way with a phrase, knowing when to modulate to carry us deeper into sadness or joy and when to pull back when she wants us to listen quietly to the lessons of a tear falling. »»»
Reboot CD review - Reboot
Brooks and Dunn return with the duo's first studio album in a dozen years. Sort of. That's because they revisit a dozen of their hits (leaving a bunch behind) with contemporary country singers. »»»
GUY CD review - GUY
A decade after recording his tribute to Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle has released an album of Guy Clark covers. It includes, perhaps, Clark's best-known songs, "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting For A Train," as well as a  »»»
Honky Tonk Time Machine CD review - Honky Tonk Time Machine
At this stage of his nearly four-decades-long career, George Strait sure knows his sweet spot. Take a look at the cover of his 30th studio album, and it's understood that it's the honky tonks that are part and parcel of the tall Texan. »»»
The Choosing Road CD review - The Choosing Road

Chris Jones is one of today's top songwriters in bluegrass who keeps stretching the envelope, bringing elements of country, folk, gospel and blues to the idiom. He continues to evolve the genre, by focusing on the song  »»»

Sorta Surviving CD review - Sorta Surviving
The front man for the Bay Area band Mother Hips, Tim Bluhm, steps aside to deliver an authentic country album recorded at Cash Cabin Studios in Hendersonville, Tenn. Yet, this is not an unexpected path for Bluhm, whose connections to classic country figures  »»»