It is with great sadness that we report the death of Levon Helm, who passed away peacefully surrounded by family, friends and band mates yesterday after a long battle with cancer.
Helm is best remembered as the drummer/ vocalist in The Band, his soulful voice matched with a creative and subtle drumming style (and occasional mandolin and bass parts) underpinned some of the bands most loved songs. Although The Band came to an end in 1976 with The Last Waltz, Helm reformed the group to play without Robbie Robertson and continued to perform with them until the death of Rick Danko in 1999.
Despite his ongoing treatment for throat cancer, 2007 saw Helm record Dirt Farmer, an album recorded with his family and a host of musicians who performed at the regular “Midnight Ramble” shows he had been hosting at his studio in Woodstock, NY, since 2004. The album won Helm a Grammy, as did it’s follow up Electric Dirt, which won the inaugural Americana award. The live album Ramble at the Ryman took home the same award in 2011.
Helm’s approach and clear love of music and performance continued through the regular performances at the Rambles. In an interview with the BBC late last year he told of his belief that “Music is like food to a lot of people, you have to have it or you don’t feel right”.
His easy groove and distinct approach have served, and continue to serve as an inspiration. Listening to Levon play and sing was a joy. He will be missed greatly by his family and friends, and by those of us lucky enough to have listened to his work.
Rest in Peace Levon.