Don Robertson

Induction Year: 1972

Birth Name: Donald Irwin Robertson

Birth Date: 12-05-1922

Place of Birth: Peking, China

Death Date: 03-16-2015

Place of Death: Lake Sherwood, California

Don Robertson wrote numerous classic country and pop songs, including hits for Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, the Chordettes, Hank Locklin and Elvis Presley.

A pianist who developed the "slip-note" technique popularized by Floyd Cramer, Robertson was born in Peking, China, the son of a physician father (who headed Peking Union Medical College's Department of Medicine) and a mother who played piano and wrote poetry and plays. He grew up in Chicago, where he sang in a church choir and played piano. By 14, he was playing piano in dance bands. He studied orchestration, composition and piano in college, and found work as a musical arranger at Chicago radio station WGN.

In 1945, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career, playing nightclubs, making demonstration recordings and working as a rehearsal pianist at Capitol Records. His start as a songwriter came in 1953, when he began collaborating with West Coast songsmith Hal Blair (also a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame). The two would go on to write one of 1960's biggest country hits, "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" (Hank Locklin), but by then Robertson had already co-written country chart-toppers for Eddy Arnold ("I Really Don't Want To Know") and Hank Snow ("I Don't Hurt Anymore").

Robertson wrote the 1955 Les Paul and Mary Ford hit "Hummingbird" by himself, inspired by a bird he saw outside his North Hollywood studio window. That same year, he scored a Top 10 pop record of his own, with the self-penned tune "The Happy Whistler." And in 1956, his "I'm Counting on You" caught the ear of Elvis Presley, who would go on to record 15 of Robertson's songs.

Robertson's biggest country hit was "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," a 14-week #1 that changed the way Nashville studio piano parts were played. Robertson played and sang on the demo, and producer Chet Atkins admired the way Robertson slid into the melody on the piano, in a style similar to something that might be played on a guitar. Atkins asked his session pianist, Floyd Cramer, to approximate Robertson's demo, and the song's extraordinary success brought the new "slip-note" style into vogue.

Robertson penned his first pop #1 hit in 1964, when Lorne Green's version of "Ringo" topped the chart. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.

"(I Can't Help You) I'm Falling Too"

(written with Hal Blair)

Skeeter Davis1960 #2 country, #39 pop

"Anything That's Part of You"

Elvis Presley1962 #31 pop
Billy "Crash" Craddock1968 

"Autumn on the Trail"

(written with Hal Blair)

The Sons of the Pioneers1963 
Riders in the Sky1998 

"Born to Be with You"

The Chordettes1956 #5 pop
Sonny James1968 #1 country, #81 pop
Dave Edmunds1973 
Leo Kottke1974 
Sandy Posey1978 #21 country

"Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger"

(written with Doris Clement, John Crutchfield)

Charley Pride1967 #4 country


Les Paul & Mary Ford1955 #7 pop
Frankie Laine1955 #17 pop

"I Don't Hurt Anymore"

(written with Jack Rollins)

Hank Snow1954 #1 country
Dinah Washington1954 #3 R&B
Narvel Felts1977 #37 country
Linda Cassady1977 #92 country
Prairie Oyster1990 #70 country

"I Love You More and More Everyday"

Al Martino1964 #9 pop, #3 adult contemporary
Sonny James1973 #4 country

"I Really Don't Want to Know"

(written with Howard Barnes)

Eddy Arnold1954 #1 country
Les Paul & Mary Ford1954 #11 pop
Ronnie Dove1966 #22 pop
Elvis Presley1971 #21 pop, #23 country, #2 adult contemporary
Charlie McCoy1972 #19 country
Jason & the Scorchers1985 
Jerry Lee Lewis & Gillian Welch2010 

"I'm Counting on You"

Elvis Presley1956 
Kitty Wells1956 

"I'm Yours"

(written with Hal Blair)

Elvis Presley1965 #11 pop

"I've Come to Say Goodbye"

(written with Hal Blair)

Faron Young1963 #30 country

"Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dead End Street)"

(written with Hal Blair)

Hank Snow1963 #2 country
Bob Dylan1988 
John Berry1995 

"Not One Minute More"

(written with Hal Blair, Ella Robertson)

Della Reese1960 #16 pop
The Isley Brothers1960 

"Please Help Me, I'm Falling"

(written with Hal Blair)

Hank Locklin1960 #1 country, #8 pop
Hank Locklin & Danny Davis1968 #70 country
Janie Fricke1978 #12 country


(written with Hal Blair)

Lorne Green1964 #1 pop, #1 adult contemporary, #21 country

"The Happy Whistler"

Don Robertson1956 #9 pop

"There's Always Me"

Elvis Presley1961 
Ray Price1979 #30 country
Jim Reeves1981 #35 country

"You're Free to Go"

(written with Lou Herscher)

Carl Smith1955 #6 country
Sonny James1977 #9 country

Don Robertson

Induction Year: 1972