Songwriter and Pianist Don Robertson Dies
Songwriter and pianist Don Robertson has passed away. The tunesmith, who penned many classic hits, including "Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger" and "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," died on March 16 in California. He was 92 years old.
Born in Beijing, China, on Dec. 5, 1922, while his father was overseas teaching medicine at Peking Union College, Robertson began learning piano, from his mother, when he was just four years old, and he started composing music only a few years later. After returning to the United States, Robertson was taking paid pianist gigs around Chicago when he was 14 years old.
Robertson went to college at the University of Chicago, but he dropped out and took a job as a musical arranger at Chicago's WGN radio station. In 1945, he began working as an accompanist and arranger for the Dinning Sisters, eventually marrying the eldest, Lucille "Lou" Dinning.
He and his wife signed as a duo to Capitol Records, and Robertson also worked as a Capitol rehearsal pianist and played keyboards on a few sessions. As a pianist, Robertson is responsible for the style known as "slip-note piano," "Nashville piano" or "country piano," made popular by fellow pianist Floyd Cramer. Throughout his musical career, Robertson played with Ray Price, Charley Pride and numerous other artists.
Notably, Robertson also lent his piano-playing skills to Disney's "Country Bear Jamboree." His song "Pianjo" is played by the animatronic bear Gomer as the attraction's opening number at California's Disneyland, Florida's Disney World and Disney Parks in France and Japan.
Robertson's first big cut as a songwriter was Eddy Arnold's 1954 No. 1 single "I Really Don't Want to Know," which was also recorded by, among others, Elvis Presley. Fourteen of Robertson's songs were cut by Presley; his tunes were also recorded by Hank Snow, Ray Charles, Martina McBride and many others. Among his most notable songwriting credits are Presley's "I Met Her Today" and "Love Me Tonight," Snow's "I Don't Hurt Anymore" and Kitty Wells' "I'm Counting on You."
Robertson also earned a hit of his own with "The Happy Whistler," which reached No. 6 on the U.S. pop charts and became a Top 10 song in the U.K. in the mid-1950s. The song sold over one million copies.
Robertson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.
The Boot extends our condolences to Robertson's family and other loved ones.
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