Quantcast
Connect with us

Levon Helm, drummer and singer with The Band, dies at 71

Published

on

NEW YORK — Levon Helm, whose gruff vocals and razor-sharp drumming underpinned the seminal late 1960s rock group The Band, died Thursday, his recording studio said. He was 71.

“Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon,” said Barbara O’Brien, executive manager of Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York, in an email to AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT

“He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul,” she said, adding that he was survived by his wife, daughter and two grandsons.

Rolling Stone magazine, on its website, said Helm died of throat cancer in New York. It quoted Helm’s longtime guitarist Larry Campbell as saying he died “with dignity” with loved ones close by.

Helm had undergone 28 treatments for throat cancer first diagnosed in the 1990s, Rolling Stone said, adding that his worsening condition had forced him to cancel a number of scheduled concerts.

One of the very few drummers who also sang lead vocals, Helm is best known for such Band tracks as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Rag Mama Rag,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Weight.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Arkansas native grew up watching such early rock’n’roll stars as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis in concert before taking up the drums and, in time, joining rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band in 1960.

There he met four Canadian musicians — Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson — with whom he formed a new group that, after several name changes, came to be known as The Band.

Settling into Woodstock, the group famously collaborated with Bob Dylan, honed its own repertoire — influenced by American roots music — and cut a string of albums including “Music from Big Pink,” “The Band” and “Cahoots.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Band split up in 1976 with a farewell concert in San Francisco — immortalized on film by director Martin Scorsese in “The Last Waltz” — leaving Helm to pursue solo projects and to star in a film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

He re-established The Band in 1980 with Danko, Manuel and Hudson, recording three albums with them, only to see the group tragically struck down by Manuel’s suicide in 1986 and Danko’s death in 1999.

Retiring to his rural home in Woodstock, Helm invited fellow musicians to join him for what he called Midnight Ramble sessions in the intimacy of his rustic Grammy-winning recording studio.

ADVERTISEMENT

Robertson, now the sole surviving founding member of The Band, said on his Facebook page that he visited Helm in hospital last weekend.

“Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I’ve ever known and very much like an older brother to me,” he wrote. “I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Has anything changed since Burning Man’s sex assault and labor issues were exposed?

Published

on

The last weekend in August marks the start of Burning Man, a week-long, festival in the Nevada desert consisting of freewheeling performance art, fanciful costumes, and a lot of drugs. The anarchic party with more than 50,000 attendees constitutes a pilgrimage for many attendees, lured by the promise of leaving the “default world” behind in exchange for a transformative or even spiritual experience.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Truckers are facing a ‘bloodbath’ in their industry — and it’s turning many in the pro-Trump group against him: report

Published

on

Truckers are numerous, conservative, and hurting. And despite their widespread support for Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016, a new report from Business Insider suggests the pain in the industry might be turning these workers away from the president.

The political trends in trucking are not insignificant. According to the American Trucking Associations, there were an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in 2018. RTS Financial has found that there are 7.4 million jobs total “tied to the trucking industry.” And Business Insider reported that nearly 90 percent of truckers are registered voters, higher than the general population.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Trump’s collusion with Russia is now a topic for impeachment — along with obstruction and racism

Published

on

President Donald Trump's interactions with Russia are now a topic of the impeachment investigation.

"There was an important development in support for impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives today," MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported Tuesday. "Important both in who the new support comes from and what that support is based on."

"Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She brings the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment now to 126 -- a majority of the Democrats' 235 members of the House," he explained.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image