Bobby Helms

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Bobby Helms
Helms in 1968
Helms in 1968
Background information
Birth nameRobert Lee Helms
Born(1933-08-15)August 15, 1933
Helmsburg, Indiana, U.S.
DiedJune 19, 1997(1997-06-19) (aged 63)
Martinsville, Indiana, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1942–1997[2]
LabelsDecca, Columbia, Vocalion

Robert Lee Helms (August 15, 1933 – June 19, 1997) was an American country singer, who is best remembered for his 1957 Christmas hit "Jingle Bell Rock". Additionally, he had two other hit records from that year: "Fraulein" and "My Special Angel".

Life and career[edit]

Robert Lee Helms was born in 1933 in Bloomington, Indiana (some sources say nearby Helmsburg), the son of Hildreth Esther (née Abram) and Fred Robert Helms.[3][4] His family was musical. Helms began performing as a duo with his brother, Freddie, before going on to a successful solo career in country music. In 1956, Helms made his way to Nashville, Tennessee, where he signed a recording contract with Decca Records, and achieved multiple successes the following year. His first single in 1957, titled "Fraulein", went to No. 1 on the country music chart and made it into the Top 40 on the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart. Later that same year, he released "My Special Angel", which also hit No. 1 on the country charts and entered the Top 10 on Billboard's pop music chart, peaking at No. 7.

His song "Jingle Bell Rock", which was released in the late fall of 1957, produced by Paul Cohen[5] was a big hit[6] and was being played and danced to on Dick Clark's teen dance show American Bandstand by mid-December of that year. It also re-emerged in four out of the next five years, and sold so well that it repeated each time as a top hit, becoming a Christmas classic still played today. (In 2016, it was rated radio's third most-played Christmas song, according to StationIntel.)[7] It took five years for the song to become a second million-seller for Helms.[8] It reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 21 weeks on the chart.[8] The record gained gold disc status.[8] At the end of a television performance of the song toward the end of his life, Helms said, “I didn’t want to do the song when they first brought it to me, but now I'm sure glad I did.”[9][better source needed] ASCAP and AllMusic list the writers of the song as Joseph Beal, Joseph Carlton, James Ross, and James Boothe.

Another record by Helms was "Schoolboy Crush", which was a hit in the UK. It was released in the United States on June 23, 1958, on Decca. The same song was then covered by UK teen star Cliff Richard about the same time as the UK release.

Helms continued touring and recording for the next three decades. His pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Helms suffered from emphysema, asthma, diabetes, and stomach problems. He began wearing an eye patch after losing sight in his right eye. He spent most of his later years living just outside Martinsville, Indiana, until his death from complications from emphysema at the age of 63 on June 19, 1997.[10]

He was portrayed by Brad Hawkins in the 2007 film Crazy.


Selected albums[edit]

  • Sings to My Special Angel (Decca, 1957)
  • I'm the Man (Kapp, 1966)
  • Sorry My Name Isn't Fred (Kapp, 1966)
  • All New Just for You (Little Darlin', 1968)
  • Pop-a-Billy (MCA, 1983)


List of singles, with selected chart positions
Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country
1955 "Yesterday's Lovin'" non-album track
"Freedom Lovin' Guy"
1956 "Tennessee Rock and Roll"
1957 "Fraulein" 1 36
"My Special Angel" 1 7 22 My Special Angel
"Jingle Bell Rock" 13 3 7 single only
1958 "Just a Little Lonesome" 10 My Special Angel
"Jacqueline" 5 63 20 non-album track
"Borrowed Dreams" 60
"Jingle Bell Rock" 6
"The Fool and the Angel" 75
1959 "New River Train" 26
"I Guess I'll Miss the Prom"
"No Other Baby" 30
"Hurry Baby"
1960 "Someone Was Already There"
"I Want to Be with You"
"Lonely River Rhine" 16
"Jingle Bell Rock" (re-entry) 36
1961 "Sad Eyed Baby"
"How Can You Divide a Little Child"
"Jingle Bell Rock" (re-entry) 41
1962 "One Deep Love"
"Then Came You"
"Jingle Bell Rock" (re-entry) 56
1964 "It's a Girl"
1967 "He Thought He'd Die Laughing" 46 All New Just for You
1968 "The Day You Stop Loving Me" 60
"I Feel You, I Love You" 53 single only
"Touch My Heart" All New Just for You
1969 "My Special Angel" Before Your Heartaches Begin
"So Long" 43
"Echoes and Shadows"
1970 "Mary Goes 'Round" 41 Greatest Performance
"Magnificent Sanctuary Band" non-album track
"Just Hold My Hand and Sing"
1971 "He Gives Us His Love"
"Hand in Hand with Love"
1972 "It's the Little Things"
"It's Starting to Rain Again"
1974 "That Heart Belongs to Me"
"Work Things Out with Annie"
1975 "Baby If I Could Make It Better"
1976 "Every Man Must Have a Dream"
1977 "Before My Heartaches Came"
1978 "I'm Gonna Love the Devil Out of You"
"I'm Not Sorry"
1979 "One More Dollar for the Band"
1983 "Tears Ago"
"I'm Drinking It Over (With My Friend Jim Beam)"
1985 "I Wish I Could Say I Find"
1986 "I'm the Man"
1987 "Dance with Me"
"Somebody Wrong Is Lookin' Right"
1996 "Jingle Bell Rock" (re-release) 60 18 Jingle All the Way (soundtrack)
"Jingle Bell Rock" (re-entry)[16] 3
"Jingle Bell Rock" (re-entry)[16] 26

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d McDaniel, Randy (February 3, 2017). "Whatever Happened to Classic Country Star Bobby Helms?". KXRB. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  2. ^ Andrew Crowley. "'My Special Angel': Son and grandson of Bobby Helms perform tribute concerts". The Hoosier Times.
  3. ^ Bush, John. "Bobby Helms Artist Biography". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  4. ^ Wonning, Paul R. "A Year of Indiana History - Book 1: 366 Indiana History Stories". Mossy Feet Books. p. 376 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Decca Records
  6. ^ Lindquist, David. "Jingle Bell Rock cemented legacy for Hoosier Bobby Helms". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  7. ^ "All-Christmas Stations Start Strategy With Classics".
  8. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 102. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  9. ^ "Jingle Bell Rock". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12.
  10. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1996 - 1997". Retrieved 2015-08-17.
  11. ^ "Bobby Helms Chart History: Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  12. ^ "Bobby Helms Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  13. ^ "Bobby Helms Chart History: Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  14. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 250. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  15. ^ "Bobby Helms | full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Bobby Helms". Billboard.
  17. ^ Trust, Gary (December 30, 2019). "Mariah Carey Becomes First Artist at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 in Four Decades, Thanks to 'All I Want for Christmas'". Billboard. Retrieved December 31, 2019.

External links[edit]