Renowned steel guitarist Don Helms dies at 81

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Don Helms, a renowned steel guitarist who played in Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys band and on country classics by Patsy Cline and Lefty Frizzell, died of an apparent heart attack. He was 81.

Michael Thomas, a director at Forest Lawn Funeral Home, says Helms died Monday in Nashville at Skyline Medical Center.

Helms, of New Brockton, Ala., was an original member of Williams' Drifting Cowboys and provided the signature steel guitar parts on tunes like "Cold, Cold Heart" and "Your Cheatin' Heart."

After Williams' death in 1953, Helms played on Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight," Frizzell's "Long Black Veil" and many other songs.

A funeral service will be held Thursday afternoon, after which Helms will be buried.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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