Country fiddle player Jerry Rivers, who toured and recorded with Hank Williams Sr. as a member of Williams’ band the Drifting Cowboys, died Oct. 4 of cancer at a hospital in Hermitage, Tenn. He was 68.
A native of Nashville, Rivers auditioned for Hank Williams in 1949 at WSM Radio Studios in Nashville and was hired by Williams immediately.
Rivers played on all of Williams’ MGM recordings after July 14, 1949, and his fiddle can be heard on many of Williams’ biggest hits, including “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Jambalaya,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Kawliga,” “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Rivers toured with Williams until the latter’s death on Jan. 1, 1953.
The Drifting Cowboys continued to tour and record with artists including Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and Lefty Frizzell.
In 1968, Rivers became an associate of Buddy Lee Attractions and divided his time between the company and touring.
He later brought the Drifting Cowboys together and toured with Hank Williams Jr. Rivers and the Cowboys toured until 1991.
Rivers then worked for Williams Sr.’s daughter, Jett Williams, and toured until last May.
Rivers is survived by his wife, June, a daughter, a son, four grandchildren and a brother.