The world of music has lost a unique voice: Levon Helm. Earlier this week, his family posted on their website that Levon was in the final stage of his battle with cancer. They sat by his bed reading notes and dedications fans wrote on his Facebook page. Levon Helm was the drummer and lead singer of The Band, which formed in the late 1960s.
In the world of comedy, often you hear the phrase, "He's a comedian's comedian," which means said funnyman isn't a superstar to the general public, but in the world of comedy, he is respected and revered by his peers. Levon Helm was a "musician's musician". Elton John loved The Band and Helm so much, he named a song after him called "Levon".
The Band did their thing for years until they played their final concert in 1976. The show featured a "who's who" of a rock and roll generation. Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood, and Ringo Starr all took the stage at some point in the night. The concert was immortalized by a young, up and coming filmmaker by the name of Martin Scorsese. The documentary The Last Waltz was released in 1978.
I would be lying if I said I know much about Levon Helm "the man". Over the course of the past few days, I have read of his reputation among his community and the great works he did for people. I watch The Last Waltz regularly on Blu-ray with my surround sound blaring. In my heart, Levon will always be that passionate drummer and singer on that ballroom stage in 1976. To me, The Last Waltz is like traveling back in time to a moment that defined a generation of music. On a day when we mourn his death, Levon's voice does nothing less than make you feel alive.
"Up On Cripple Creek"
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"
Richard Manuel tragically committed suicide in 1986. Rick Danko died in his sleep at the age of 56 in 1999. Levon Helm has now lost his battle with throat cancer at the age of 71. Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson are the only two surviving members of The Band. I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to Levon than watching the closing performance from The Last Waltz. The Band went out surrounded by friends in the name of their love for music. Levon went out surrounded by his family in the name of their love for him. Rest peacefully, Levon. Your voice lives on.
"I Shall Be Released"
- Garytt Poirier (@Garytt)