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Bobby Helms, who sang ‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ dies

June 20, 1997 GMT

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (AP) _ Bobby Helms, who mixed the spirit of Christmas with rock ‘n’ roll in his 1957 hit ``Jingle Bell Rock,″ has died at age 61.

Helms died at home Thursday, said Mia Neal of Neal and Summers Mortuary in Martinsville, about 30 miles south of Indianapolis. The cause of death was not released.

In a 1990 interview, Helms said that he had been unsure about mixing rock ‘n’ roll and Christmas. But ``Jingle Bell Rock″ has become a holiday classic and has been covered by dozens of artists in the 40 years since Helms recorded it.

``It’s made itself a part of Christmas,″ Helms said. ``It lifts people up.″

Helms said that the song, written by Joe Beal and Jim Boothe, was the first to tie in Christmas with rock ‘n’ roll, which was just emerging in 1957.

Besides ``Jingle Bell Rock,″ Helms had two other hit records _ ``My Special Angel″ and ``Fraulein.″ His recording career continued through the 1950s and ’60s. He later got into the nightclub business and also sponsored music festivals.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.