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Monday, 25 August 2014

Jerry Rivers born 25 August 1928

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)
It was whilst working with Bess that Rivers was first approached by Williams. Although Hank had performed with groups from the mid-1930s on, it was only following his successful early appearances on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949 that he began to see the merits of a permanent backing band. (Photo left:
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.
In 1952, tired of Williams' constant drinking and unreliability, the Drifting Cowboys started backing other big-name artists such as Faron Young and Ray Price. They still played an occasional show with Williams, when he was sober enough, but the closeness of previous years was not renewed.
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.
In the 1990s, Rivers and Don Helms toured with Jett Williams, Hank Williams' daughter by Bobbie Jett. He also worked as an agent and talent scout for the powerhouse Buddy Lee Attractions.
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)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

Couldn’t find Jerry’s own album but found a few tracks on this post from lonesome Lefty’s Scratchy Attic blog. So for 30 Fiddler’s Greatest Hits – Various Artists go here:

1. Scotty Stoneman-Orange Blossom Breakdown Revival
2. Howdy Forrester-Still On The Hill
3. Chubby Wise-Peacock Rag
4. Buck Ryan featured with Reno & Harrell-Maiden's Prayer
5. Buddy Spicher & Shorty Lavender-Three Fiddle Swing
6. Ken Clark-Lee Highway Ramble
7. Benny Martin-Big Tiger Special
8. Joe 'Red' Hayes-Sweet Nellie
9. Harry Choates-Drag That Fiddle
10. Mac Magaha featured with Reno & Smiley-Mac's Hoedown
11. Curly Fox-Black Mountain Rag
12. Fiddlin' Arthur Smith-Tulsa Hop
13. Jerry Rivers-Molly And Tenbrooks
14. Fiddlin' Red Herron-Listen To The Mocking Bird
15. Tommy Jackson-Cotton Eyed Joe(Fiddlin' Joe)
16. Mac Magaha featured with Reno & Smiley-Richmond Ruckus
17. 'Curly' Ray Cline featured with the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers-Kentucky Fiddler
18. Scotty Stoneman-Talkin' Fiddle Blues
19. Fiddlin' Red Herron-Devil's Dream
20. Fiddlin' Arthur Smith-Louise
21. Joe 'Red' Hayes-Texas Quickstep
22. Howdy Forrester-Trott Along
23. Bob Wills-Beaumont Rag
24. Jerry Rivers-Joys Of Quebec
25. Harry Choates-The Original Jole Blon
26. Chubby Wise-Opry Fiddler's Blues
27. Buddy Spicher & Shorty Lavender-Twin Fiddle Polka
28. Ken Clark-Merry Mountain Hoedown
29. Curly Fox-Whistlewood
30. Benny Martin-Sparta Waltz