Erwin Helfer

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Erwin Helfer
Born (1936-01-20) January 20, 1936 (age 78)
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Boogie-woogie, blues, jazz
Occupation(s) Pianist
Instruments Piano
Years active 1970s–present
Labels Red Beans, Flying Fish, The Sirens
Website Official website

Erwin Helfer (born January 20, 1936) is an American boogie-woogie, blues and jazz pianist.


Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, United States, as a child Helfer was more interested in classical music than blues. Helfer was introduced to piano blues as a young teenager growing up in Chicago in the early 1950s. Once Helfer discovered the blues he enrolled at Tulane University in New Orleans, completing college with a degree in music. He spent time outside of class studying the piano style of Crescent City pianists Archibald and Professor Longhair. Helfer began his professional career when Estelle Yancey, wife of pianist and boogie-woogie pioneer Jimmy Yancey, coaxed him to fill in for her accompanist, Little Brother Montgomery. His initial performance with Yancey led to a long-term professional partnership with the singer that lasted to her death in 1986 at age ninety.[1]

In 1982 Helfer began his own record company, Red Beans, and released albums by Estelle Yancey, Blind John Davis, Johnny "Big Moose" Walker, and other Chicago blues artists. He was nominated for the Blues Music Awards in 2003, for 'Comeback Blues Album of the Year', for his CD I'm Not Hungry But I Like To Eat - Blues.[2] Recently he has played at the Chicago Jazz Festival, 2005–2007; Hungary's Debrecen Jazz Festival, 2005, the Chicago Blues Festival, in June 2010, and throughout Chicago's blues clubs.

Selective discography[edit]

Year Title Genre Label
1974 Blues, Boogie Woogie Piano Duets & Solos Blues, Boogie Flying Fish
1976 Boogie Piano Chicago Style Boogie Big Bear
1979 On the Sunny Side of The Street Blues, Jazz Flying Fish
1987 Chicago Piano Blues, Jazz Red Beans
2001 I'm Not Hungry But I Like To Eat - Blues Blues, Boogie, Jazz The Sirens Records
2002 Heavy Timbre - Chicago Boogie Piano Blues, Boogie The Sirens Records
2002 8 Hands on 88 Keys - Chicago Blues Piano Masters Blues, Boogie The Sirens Records
2003 St. James Infirmary (with Skinny Williams) Jazz, Blues and R&B The Sirens Records
2005 Careless Love Blues, Boogie, Jazz The Sirens Records
2013 Erwin Helfer Way Blues, Boogie, Jazz The Sirens Records


  1. ^ Santelli, Robert. The Big Book of Blues, Penguin Books, page 201, (2001) - ISBN 0-14-100145-3
  2. ^ Blues Music Awards Database

External links[edit]