Monday, April 23, 2012

Levon Helm, 1940-2012

Levon Helm, drummer and singer for The Band, passed away last Thursday.  He had battled throat cancer for years, but I was surprised to read a statement from his family on Wednesday that he was fading, given the fact that he had been playing shows relatively recently. 

In an otherwise Canadian group, Helm was an Arkansas native and lent an authentic tone to The Band's Americana songs, such as "Up On Cripple Creek," "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and "Ophelia."  He had long resented guitarist-songwriter Robbie Robertson, believing that Robertson received a disproportionate amount of royalties.  Helm also disliked the Scorcese-directed concert film The Last Waltz because he thought it glorified Robertson over the other members of the group.

After thirty years of acrimony, the two reconciled when Robertson visited Helm in the hospital.  "I am so grateful I got to see him one last time," said Robertson, "and will miss him and love him forever."  Garth Hudson, the other surviving member of The Band, expressed sadness as well.

In recent years, Helm had hosted a weekly concert series, "The Midnight Rambles," at his home, which led to the production of two acclaimed albums, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt.  The live album Ramble at the Ryman was also well received.

 "If it doesn't come from your heart, music just doesn't work." --Levon Helm.

1 comment:

  1. Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche pay tribute to Levon Helm:!/levon-helm-1940-2012/