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Continued: Continued: Don Helms' and Hank Williams' enduring musical legacy

Continued from above:

“You bet,” I answered, not thinking it was really a serious invitation — but what Helms did next proved to me he meant what he said. He asked for a piece of paper from one of my ubiquitous yellow tablets. Then, borrowing a pen, he jotted something down on it.

“There’s my home number,” he said. “If ya’ll ever get to Nashville, give me a call.”

I never did make it to Nashville while Helms was still living, but if I had, I would have definitely made that phone call. He seemed like the kind of genuine guy who would invite you inside for a piece of apple pie and a glass of iced tea and a little conversation about some of the greatest recorded music of all time — although he would never have called it that.

I will though.

Speaking of Helms’ legacy, country singer Marty Stuart expressed it very well when he said “The sound of his steel guitar is as much a part of our atmosphere as the wind, trains or church bells.”

Helms didn’t quit playing or recording after Hank Williams died. In addition to their timeless work together, his distinctive steel guitar sound can be heard on Patsy Clines’ “Walkin’ After Midnight” and Ray Price’s “I’ll Be There.” He’s also the steel guitarist on Loretta Lynn’s “Blue Kentucky Girl” and Lefty Frizzell’s “Long Black Veil.”

Helms, who died in 2008 in Nashville, played up until the end, even recording with Kid Rock.

“Don Helms’ legacy will not only be as one of the founding fathers of country music, but also as one of the truest gentlemen to ever walk the face of the earth,” Stuart said.

I agree, wholeheartedly.

Contact James Beaty at