Levon Helm The Band
Levon Helm The Band, Levon Helm died Thursday at the age of 71, and a piece of the rich roots music now called Americana should be buried with him.
Helm, who was best known as the drummer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group The Band, had been suffering from a recurrence of the cancer that cost him his singing voice a decade earlier.
Larry Campbell, music director for the Levon Helm Band, said he died peacefully at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, “surrounded by friends and bandmates and family.”
Helm won three solo Grammys over a 65-year career in which he blended all the music he heard as a youth in Turkey Scratch, Ark.: country, blues, bluegrass, gospel, R&B, pop and rock ‘n’ roll.
“He was just a great rock ‘n’ roll drummer,” said his long-time friend and admirer, radio host Don Imus. “He was also a genuinely sweet person – a true angel. There was no one like him.”
Helm and The Band played for 600,000 fans at the 1973 Watkins Glen music festival, but his focus the last decade was the intimate weekly jam sessions he called Midnight Rambles at his studio/ barn in Woodstock, N.Y.
Artists like Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello often dropped in for the sessions, which were open to the public. Helm said he modeled them after late-night performances by the traveling medicine shows he knew as a child.
Robertson also made a personal visit to Helm’s bedside over the weekend and called Helm “one of the most extraordinarily talented people I’ve ever known.”
Helm decided he wanted to be a musician at the age of 6, he said, when he heard bluegrass icon Bill Monroe.