THE BAND LEGEND LEVON HELM DIES AGED 71
One of the guiding lights of the 1960′s and 70′s rock patchwork Levin Helm, drummer and singer with The Band, has died aged 71 after a long battle with Cancer.
Helm, who was born May 26, 1940, had been battling cancer of the vocal chords for many years, first being diagnosed in 1997 and for many years was unable to perform in any fruitful way but over the last few years had begun playing and singing again.
Helm was one of the key members of The Band, who as The Hawks had made their as the backing band for the raucous Ronnie Hawkins before becoming Bob Dylan’s live band right about the time he was being declared a Judas for making the switch from acoustic to Electric instruments.
When Dylan crashed hgis bike in late 66 The Band joined him in Woodstock as he recuperated, it was these length and down home style sessions that, with the released of the album Music From Big Pink, gave rise to practically a whole new genre of music and changed the direction of rock music at that time. Even The Beatles gave up their psychedelics wanderings in search of a more natural style.
Helm, along with Rick Danko and Richard Manuel shared most of the vocal duties (intricate vocal harmonies were very much in evidence on most of the songs) on classics like The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, I Shall Be Released and The Weight.
Helm and Co were the stars of Martin Scorcese’s legendary concert film The Last Waltz which showed the band as they were on the verge of splitting up.
In later years Helm also turned to acting playing in The Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Right Stuff but it is as a member of The Band that he will be forever remembered.