Jerry Rivers (August 25, 1928 – October 4, 1996) was an American fiddle player.
Jerry Rivers was born in Miami, Florida. He played fiddle with the Drifting Cowboys, a band who will be forever associated with their "frontman", the legendary Hank Williams.
Raised in Nashville, in a house that would later serve as an office for Atlantic Records, Jerry Rivers took up the fiddle as a teenager and was, by the mid-1940s, playing it semi- professionally whilst working during the day as a salesman for an electronic components company. He turned professional, briefly toured with the Short Brothers and then found himself back in Nashville working with Big Jeff Bess, husband of Hattie Louise "Tootsie" Bess, owner of the famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Music City's Lower Broadway. (Photo above right : Cedric Rainwater, Hank, Don Helms, Jerry Rivers & Sammy Pruitt)
Jerry Rivers, Cedric Rainwater, Hank Williams, Don Helms, Sammy Pruitt)
Rivers cut his first discs with Williams on 9 January 1950, in a session that produced classics like "Long Gone Lonesome Blues", "Why Don't You Love Me?", and "My Son Calls Another Man Daddy". Nicknamed "Burrhead" because of his haircuts, he performed on every major Williams session that followed. Fast becoming one of his best hunting and fishing buddies, Rivers and Williams struck up a friendship, Williams even naming Rivers his personal manager while in the state of Texas.
On New Year's Day, 1953, Rivers was actually scheduled to play in the Canton, Ohio show with Price, while his friend, Helms, was to play with Williams. The weather was so bad, however, that Rivers was forced to turn back when he reached Louisville, Kentucky. He never made it to the show. Neither did Hank Williams. (Above photo: Jerry & Don at right hand side)
Following Williams' death in the early hours of New Year's Day 1953, Rivers and the other Drifting Cowboys had few problems finding work, making valuable contributions to the music of Ray Price and Ferlin Husky, Marty Robbins and, eventually, Hank Williams Jr.
Here's "Joys Of Quebec" from above album.
In the early 1960s, Rivers cut a now rare solo album for Starday, Fantastic Fiddlin' and Tall Tales which is now available on compact disc as "Stories and Great Fiddle Music As Played by Jerry Rivers on which he both explains and demonstrates the evolution of various country fiddle styles, and in 1964 his biography of Williams, From Life To Legend, was published (revised edition 1980).
In 1976, the Drifting Cowboys reformed for a series of radio shows with the country comic Whitey Ford and enjoyed renewed popularity, especially on the Opry stage and in Britain where they performed at the Wembley Festival. Together, they cut a series of albums before largely retiring to enjoy their status as Nashville icons.
Rivers was, with steel guitarist Don Helms, bassist Hillous Butram and guitarist Bob McNett part of a quartet whose work with Williams has given them a special place in the affections of country music fans. That they largely stuck with the most troubled and behaviorally erratic figure in the genre's history is a tribute not only to their patience but also to the loyalty they felt towards the man they knew as "Bones".
Rivers died on October 4, 1996, of cancer. (Info edited from Wikipedia)