Erwin Helfer (born January 20, 1936) is an American boogie-woogie, blues and jazz pianist.
Erwin Helfer in 1936 and raised in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Erwin Helfer is a Chicago boogie woogie and jazz innovator, performer, and educator. Helfer was mentored by William Russell, who introduced him to Baby Dodds, Mahalia Jackson, Glover Compton, Cripple Clarence Lofton, and Estelle Mama Yancey, as a young teenager growing up in Chicago in the early 1950s.
William Russell moved to New Orleans and worked on a Ford Foundation grant which led to the creation of the Jazz Archives at Tulane University. Helfer followed Russell to New Orleans and studied at Tulane University. He studied Psychology but he did not complete a degree. He became very close to Billie Pierce and DeDe Pierce. He spent time outside of class studying the piano style of Crescent City pianists Archibald and Professor Longhair.
In 1956, Erwin Helfer made the only recordings of house rent party pianist Doug Suggs and also recorded Speckled Red, Billie Pierce, and James Robinson (on the LP entitled Primitive Piano for his Tone Records and subsequently reissued by The Sirens Records SR-5005). Other tracks from the Speckled Red recording session were issued on Delmark Record’s first release.
Erwin 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.
Erwin HelferIn the 1960s and early 1970s, Erwin Helfer recorded for Chess Records, Testament Records, Flying Fish Records, and various European labels. Peter J. Welding, one of the preeminent blues historians and scholars of all time, wrote that Helfer had “mastered the..Erwin Helfer Source Wikipedia