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Country music guitarist Helms dead at 81

  |   Aug. 17, 2008 at 12:25 PM
NASHVILLE, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Steel guitarist Don Helms, who worked with country music stars Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, has died in Nashville at the age of 81, a friend says.

Performer Marty Stuart said Helms, who primarily worked with Williams during his successful music career, died of complications of heart surgery and diabetes, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Bill Lloyd, stringed instruments curator at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, remembered Helms's "quintessential honky-tonk steel sound."

"After the great tunes and Hank's mournful voice, the next thing you think about in those songs is the steel guitar," Lloyd said of Helms, who died Monday. "It is the quintessential honky-tonk steel sound -- tuneful, aggressive, full of attitude."

Before Williams death in 1953, Helms worked with the country music star on more than 100 songs. Of those collaborations, 10 ultimately became No. 1 hits for Williams.

The Times said Helms, who also played with the Grand Ole Opry and the Drifting Cowboys, is survived by his wife, Hazel Cullifer, two sons, two brothers, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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