Levon Helm, 1940 – 2012
Levon Helm, drummer and vocalist for The Band passed away yesterday afternoon after a lengthy battle with throat cancer. Today, let’s celebrate his distinctive voice and creative drumming skills!
At lot of younger people might ask, “Who was Levon Helm?” You may have never heard his name, but you have heard his music. You’ve heard his songs in commercials, movies, tv shows, on the radio and covered by your favorite bands.
He had an unmistakable voice and his style of drumming was organic. And dirty and rough. And absolutely brilliant.
Levon battled throat cancer in the 90’s, but was able to overcome it enough to speak and sing a little bit. He continued to get better and better and even started to tour again. But then recently the cancer came back and eventually took his life yesterday.
RIP Levon Helm.
He’s survived by his wife, Sandy, and his daughter, Amy.
Levon was born in Arkansas and graced his gritty voice to some of The Band’s best hits, “The Weight, “Up on Cripple Creek” and (my personal favorite) “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
Again, if you don’t recognize the titles of those songs, don’t fret, that’s what YouTube is for!
The Weight – this version is from 2010 and Levon performed it with a slew of other artists. Obviously, Levon doesn’t sing a whole lot during this clip, but it was a triumph for him at that this point in his life.
That song gets me every. single. time. Tears, goosebumps. and my God, that version – I need a tissue! Songs often bring me to tears, (I know, I’m so strange….) I just can’t help it sometimes – music (especially really good music like this) just pull at my most inner heart strings. Man! Powerful stuff!
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down – my favorite.
This version is from 1976! The Band was so young!
If you love this type of music – you need to watch The Last Waltz – The Last Waltz was a concert performed by The Band on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th, 1976 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Oh and it was documented by Martin Scorsese… Absolutely brilliant.
Now for a strange segue – – and on to a happier note –
I want to say a HUGE HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CLAY COOK of Zac Brown Band!! Clay turns 34 today. Clay Cook and I grew up down the street from each other, we used to ride the bus to school together, we went to the same neighborhood pool, etc etc. We’ve known each other for a long time and I couldn’t be more proud of one Hell of a nice guy (and quite a talented fella) for all of his success!
Happy Birthday Clay!
Ironically, Clay Cook performs a very moving version of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” with Zac Brown Band. Watch below. You might need a box of tissues, I usually do….
Wow. Just wow. Happy birthday Clay! They recorded this song live for the wonderful album, “Pass The Jar” a couple years ago – you should buy that album and listen to this song. And then listen to it some more. And then listen to the rest of the songs because they’re really great, too.
I can’t wait to see ZBB this summer at the Susquehanna Bank Center on July 14th! (Tickets went on sale today – btw!)