Pioneering country guitarist Velma Smith has died at the age of 87.

The musician passed away on Thursday (31Jul14) in Madison, Tennessee.

Smith began performing on a local Kentucky radio station with her sister Mildred at the age of 12 and later went on to play with the likes of Ernest Tubb, Carl Smith and Roy Acuff.

However, it wasn't until the late 1950s that her career really took off as she became the first female rhythm guitar player to perform on records cut in Nashville, Tennessee.

She worked with artists such as Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings and Ray Price and her song credits include Hank Locklin's Please Help Me, I'm Falling in 1960 and Skeeter Davis' The End of the World in 1962.

She was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville in January (14) as part of the Class of 2014, which also featured Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy and Randy Bachman from Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Smith was married to Price's pal, fiddle player-turned-producer James 'Hal' Smith, from 1948 until his death in 2008.