Levon Helm, R.I.P.

Levon Helm, with the Band. (Photo by Art Meripol)

Sad news from Woodstock, N.Y., today: Levon Helm, drummer and singer for The Band and a Grammy Award-winning solo artist, has died.

Helm, 71, was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late 1990s. Intensive radiation treatment left him with a raspy voice that can be heard on the album Dirt Farmer (2007). Nevertheless, the Arkansas native carried on a busy touring schedule and hosted “Midnight Ramble” events at his barn in Woodstock.

The Band in the 1980s - Garth Hudson (left), Rick Danko (center) and Levon Helm (far right). (Photo by Art Meripol)

After backing Bob Dylan on his notorious 1965-66 “electric” tours, The Band released its first album in 1968, Music from Big Pink, which included one of the group’s signature songs “The Weight.”  The Band followed that with The Band album, which included “Up On Cripple Creek,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Rag Mama Rag.” Helm played drums and sang with The Band until 1999, when bassist-singer Rick Danko died.

Helm was also an actor; he appeared in a number of theatrical and TV movies, including Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), The Right Stuff (1983), Fire Down Below (1997) and In The Electric Mist (2009).

Thanks to Art Meripol for graciously allowing the use of his photos.

Levon Helm obituary from the Poughkeepsie Journal

MP3: “The Weight” by The Band

MP3: “Up On Cripple Creek” by The Band

MP3: “Take Me To The River” by Levon Helm

MP3: “Tennessee Jed” by Levon Helm

MP3: “Hurricane” by Levon Helm

MP3: “Summertime Blues” by Levon Helm

MP3: “Atlantic City” by The Band

MP3: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (live) by The Band

YouTube: “I Shall Be Released” by Levon Helm and friends (2010 Newport Folk Festival)

YouTube: “Poor Old Dirt Farmer”

YouTube: “Ophelia” (2009)

Levon Helm official website

Playing with the Band in Arkansas, during the 1980s. (Photo by Art Meripol)

2 Responses to “Levon Helm, R.I.P.”

  1. Never had the pleasure to see Levon live but on the film clips he always seemed to be having a great time.

  2. Jackie Murphy Says:

    God Bless You Levon, I’ve loved you for over 40 years. Sing with angels now.

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