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Longtime Dolly Parton Manager Don Warden Passes

(CelebrityAccess) — Don Warden, a steel guitar player and a longtime manager of country legend Dolly Parton, died on March 11. He was 87.

In a statement posted after Warden's passing, Parton said: “I’ve known and loved Don Warden since I joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. He was like a father, a brother, a partner and one of my best friends. I feel like a piece of my heart is missing today. Certainly, a huge piece of my life is gone. Rest in peace Don and know for sure that I will always love you.”

Influenced by the music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Warden taught himself the steel guitar and formed and fronted his own band The Rhythm Rangers while still in high school in his native Missouri. The band's success in regional touring led to a regular gig on the Louisiana Hayride, backing The Wilburn Brothers and Red Sovine.

Warden's music career was interrupted by a stint in the army but upon his return to civilian life, he picked up the thread, meeting Porter Wagoner and forming the Porter Wagoner Trio. The group were regular performers on ABC television's Ozark Jubilee and eventually transitioned to the long-running The Porter Wagoner Show.

Parton joined the show in 1966 and after she left in 1974 to pursue her solo career, Warden signed on as her full-time manager.

Warden was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2008.

A cause of death was not listed for Warden. – Staff Writers