Yesterday the world of rock ‘n roll lost one it’s greatest voices–Levon Helm. Helm was the drummer and singer in a band called The Band. Despite a rather innocuous name, The Band were anything but ordinary fusing rock, country, and the sounds of Motown into something truly great (and very American). Most people became aware of The Band when the legendary Bob Dylan started using them as his back-up band (when they were still called The Hawks). They contributed a lot to Dylan’s late 60’s sound, and the group were featured on Dylan’s (in)famous “basement tapes.”
In 1968, The Band released a “solo” record called MUSIC FROM THE BIG PINK. That album, named after the pink country house in which it was recorded, became an instant classic. It featured, among others, the song that would most be identified with The Band–“The Weight.”
When he wasn’t playing in The Band, Levon recorded solo albums and worked with other artists, almost too many to name. In 1989 he joined Ring Starr’s First “All Starr Band.” I’ve also read that he was the ‘Levon’ in the classic Elton John song of the same name. He was mostly known for playing the drums, but was also a guitarist and also played bass, mandolin, and harmonica.
Levon died yesterday after battling cancer. His rich, soulful voice will be greatly missed.