Hank Williams pedal player Don Helms dies
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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.

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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. ...
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 ...

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