April 19, 2012

"Levon Helm, who helped to forge a deep-rooted American music as the drummer and singer for the Band..."

"... died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 71 and lived in Woodstock, N.Y."
Mr. Helm gave his drums a muffled, bottom-heavy sound that placed them in the foundation of the arrangements, and his tom-toms were tuned so that their pitch would bend downward as the tone faded. Mr. Helm didn’t call attention to himself. Three bass-drum thumps at the start of one of the Band’s anthems, “The Weight,” were all that he needed to establish the song’s gravity.
Beautiful. So sorry to lose this man.

21 comments:

chickenlittle said...

I wonder if Shouting Thomas knew him.

Not a big fan, but RIP.

Kit said...

I cried, a bit, while listening to 'The Weight' after hearing the news.. Thanks, Levon. RIP.

DADvocate said...

I buy very few albums, only the ones I love. I bought "The Band" when it many years ago. Love the music and Helm's voice.

PatCA said...

Yes, he and The Band were greats. Music from the Big Pink - still amazing.

RIP, Mr. Helm.

John Stodder said...

One of the best rock musicians ever. Very sad. His last couple of solo albums, especially Dirt Farmer, were well worth a listen.

Rialby said...

Who's the triad with Dick Clark and Levon?

Rialby said...

Men at Work flautist Greg Ham?

Charlie said...

A total badass.

Quayle said...

Acadian Driftwood,gypsy tailwind; they call my home the land of snow.

A huge loss to American music - to all of us.

wyo sis said...

"And...and...and put the load right on me." One of my favorite phrases in music.

EDH said...

Lest we get too sad, a February 2012 performance of Ophelia from his barn in Woodstock, the home of his "Midnight Rambles".

Plus a follow-up interview.

Watching him do what he loved so recently -- even with some difficulty, but in great spirits -- is reassuring.

David said...

Dick Clark already has him booked.

traditionalguy said...

They should never have taken the very best.

John Stodder said...

What a miracle "Music From Big Pink" is. I love some of their other albums as much, but that first one is just so unusual, especially the drum sound, but really the whole thing, all the arrangements, the odd way they handed off lines of the songs from one singer to the other. I've been listening to it for 40+ years, but it still amazes me as an example of unbridled creativity. "Tears of Rage" is such an odd, beautiful way to open the album and thus their career. Man they really must have had some confidence in their skills to put that out there in 1968.

BarrySanders20 said...

Never knew much about Levon, or The Band, as they were a bit before my time, but for 25 years have always listened and enjoyed the music and sang along when alone or if drunk with friends whenever it was on the radio.

Paul said...

I played with Levon in his band for a few years in the late 80's and became good friends with him. He was a great musician, a brilliant raconteur, and a true gentleman.

I highly recommend his autobiography, "This Wheels On Fire". His was a charmed life. He went straight from high school to play with the legendary Ronnie Hawkins and then on to form The Band, work with Dylan, and change the face of American popular music.

The last time I saw him was at the Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park in 2010. I played the show with his band and afterwards my wife and I spent time with him laughing and reminiscing in the back of his tour bus. His warmth and humor were infectious, his manner always gracious. He was at equally at ease with celebrities and the hired help.

He was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.

Bob_R said...

The Band had three of the great voices in Rock and Roll and now they are all gone. I miss them all.

Michael said...

One of the commenters here once played with Levon. Cant remember who but I clearly remember the discussion. Rest in Peace.

Steve Koch said...

I've been a big fan of The Band forever. They were awesome and made quintessentially American music but were all Canadian except for Levon. Scorsese made "The Last Waltz" about their last concert (it has been called the greatest concert movie of all time), well worth a look/listen.

Levon was still a Grammy winning machine to the end, winning 3 or 4 Grammies just in the last few years.

Crimso said...

Very nice testament, Paul. Thank you so much for sharing a personal look at someone the rest of us could only see at a distance (and confirming what most of us probably suspected).

Tank said...

Yes, check out Shouting's website today for his thoughts, and mine.