Miscellaneous Rumbles

R.I.P. Levon Helm

1

Levon Helm passed away this morning. He will be sorely missed by those of us whose musical maturation included music by The Band.

(Although Mugsy was good enough to mention it in the thread regarding Levon Helm's illness, I thought that his passing deserved its own thread.)

2

(If I said it here,do forgive my repeating myself)

Rock and roll is ageless.The world would be just a little brighter if rockers were too.Go with God,Levon.

4

When I watched 'The Last Waltz' for the first time it was his voice and singing that impressed me the most.

R.I.P. Levon.

5

Sad news. I met the man a few times, he was a gentleman in the finest sense of the word . The world is a much sadder place today. RIP Levon. I'm going down to the basement with a bottle and such and I'll be playing everything that I have that your on. Rest well.

6

A few songs to remember Levon's wonderful talent:

Ophelia from The Last Waltz -- A now silent voice, but one that inspired so many to join with him in song whenever a Band song came on the radio or the stereo. "Why do the best things always disappear?"

Poor Old Dirt Farmer from the Grammy Award winning 2007 album - Dirt Farmer -- Levon sings about dirt farmers and makes it sound romantic.

Tennessee Jed from the 7/9/09 Letterman Show Performance -- An obviously weakened and somewhat gaunt Levon showing just what made him so very special. Great vocals (despite the raspiness that his radiation treatments gave him), images of Americana, and great syncopated rhythmic drumming that really set him apart from other drummers.

7

Well said, Ric. Thanks to my brother, The Band was a huge influence on my musical development starting at around age 13, and Levon's voice was leading the charge with Robbie, Garth, and the rest.

9

Another fine musician who was a real contributor. Thank you, Levon!

10

Farewell, Levon, and thanks.

12

RIP Levon. A great musician whom i've come to appreciate more and more over time (particularly his drumming)

14

I love the way he sang while playing the drums... watching the Last Waltz, you can tell he loved it too.

Listen to Levon Helm and the RCO Allstars record: Levon, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Booker T Jones. Seriously.

15

i posted this on another forum, and am copying it here because it pretty much expresses how i feel:

it's strange to start out thinking "what can you say about Levon?" and go on to say stuff anyway. i think about how i loved his voice, how he lost it to cancer, how he worked to regain it, and how well he sang once he did. i think about his lovely, tasteful, elegant drumming. i think about the life he led, the long childhood years of poverty and struggle, the years of one-nighters and county fairs, the brief moment in the sun with The Band and the decades of living in its shadow. i remember the time i saw Levon and Rick Danko play a acoustic duo gig in Cotati back in the 80s, and how the good will and bonhomie Levon radiated served as the counterpart to Danko's intense, all-encompassing gloom and made the affair a delight. and i think of how even people i've known in the music business who hung with The Band in the drunken Cahoots days and have loads of dirt to dish never have a bad word to say about Levon. there aren't that many folks in rock who i respect both for their art and for their works, and there aren't many rock stars that leave a clean path behind them. i hope he knew how much of a victor he was, and how respected he was for his accomplishments. if faith is real, then surely flights of angels are singing him to his rest.

16

Very nicely stated, macphisto.

At lunch this afternoon in a sandwich shop, the radio was playing in the background. The radio station was honoring Levon Helm by featuring some of his songs, both with The Band and from his later solo career. One of the songs they played was The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. I listened to Levon's drumming on that song as it was played and I had to marvel at the inventiveness of his drumming. The man was playing a roll on the snare drum during the song! C'mon. How many people play a snare roll in rock and roll music? Not that many.

Listen beginning at about :33 to how he swells the roll going into the chorus of The Night...Dixie Down (link). He also repeats it another time during each of the choruses. That is what I loved about his drumming. He did the unusual.

Sometime in recent years, there was a thread in which The Band was discussed, and I remember that a GDP'er offered up a technical drumming explanation for Levon's playing style. I would be curious to hear from Tubwompus or Buddy Hollywood or any other veteran drummer on the site as to what they thought about his drumming style that set him apart from other rock drummers. How would you put into words what he did that was different from other drummers?

17

On Aug.21/71 i had the privilege of seeing The Band play at the Beggars Banquet series of concerts in Toronto. It was an amazing show with Edgar Winter, Lee Michaels, Sha na na, Sundance, Sea Train (with the talented Richard Greene) and The Band to close out the outdoor all day concert. He will be missed, but his work lives on.

18

I saw them at Watkins Glen, NY back in 73'. It's a sad day. :(

19

Sad news... those of us who have had loved ones battle with cancer know how hard it really is.

The Band - and especially Levon's singing & playing - did more to shape my musical ear than any other artist. I had guitar heroes I wanted to emulate as a kid, but that was really because at 14 I just wanted to look cool and impress girls. The Band made me want to figure out how to make music; not just to play it but to really understand it. Levon was a wholly unique drummer, and it's his rhythm I hear in my head to keep time while playing guitar or bass.

20

Apropos my earlier question about Levon's playing, he offers an interesting explanation of his half-time playing on Up On Cripple Creek (link). Listen carefully to Jim Keltner's remarks in that video.

21

The man was playing a roll on the snare drum during the song! C'mon. How many people play a snare roll in rock and roll music?

Well, that's the point, innit? He made it something other than rock & roll. That was The Band's genius, bringing in so many flavors of Americana/Canadiana/"roots"/folk, and fusing them with enough rock to fool us all.

Maybe more accurately, rock and roll was something different at the time - or had a chance to be. The Band offered something like organic musicology for listeners - and Levon Helm played a major role in that.

22

Sad day for music. Levon was an amazing drummer (I love that clip about the making of Up On Cripple Creek) and a great natural singer. The real deal.

Odd to think those three voices that breathed life into those great songs - Helm's, Danko's and Manuel's - are now gone.

23

Very nicely stated, macphisto.

At lunch this afternoon in a sandwich shop, the radio was playing in the background. The radio station was honoring Levon Helm by featuring some of his songs, both with The Band and from his later solo career. One of the songs they played was The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. I listened to Levon's drumming on that song as it was played and I had to marvel at the inventiveness of his drumming. The man was playing a roll on the snare drum during the song! C'mon. How many people play a snare roll in rock and roll music? Not that many.

Listen beginning at about :33 to how he swells the roll going into the chorus of The Night...Dixie Down (link). He also repeats it another time during each of the choruses. That is what I loved about his drumming. He did the unusual.

Sometime in recent years, there was a thread in which The Band was discussed, and I remember that a GDP'er offered up a technical drumming explanation for Levon's playing style. I would be curious to hear from Tubwompus or Buddy Hollywood or any other veteran drummer on the site as to what they thought about his drumming style that set him apart from other rock drummers. How would you put into words what he did that was different from other drummers?

– Ric12string

Personally, I've always thought that one of the coolest things about his drumming, his singing (and his acting, actually) was that they were all extensions of his just being himself. You could actually get an insight into his personality by hearing him play and sing or seeing him act.

Adjectives like thoughtful, intuitive, down-home, laid-back yet confident, and no extraneous B.S. could have been used to describe both the man and his drumming. A rare phenomenon indeed in a world so usually superficially note-conscious. As solid as he played, it always struck me more that he was trying to establish a vibe than just keep time.

I'm also convinced that his feel was positively effected by his having played guitars on the porch with his family as he was growing up. I'm here to tell ya, it does make a difference.

24

In honor of Levon, tonight I played "Someone Give Me A Stone", the tune he did with Largo.

RIP, Levon.

25

The man was playing a roll on the snare drum during the song! C'mon. How many people play a snare roll in rock and roll music? Not that many.

The radio was playing that very snare roll as I read those words (Radio 6Music UK, 7.52 a.m.). RIP Levon.


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