Levon Helm

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Amateur(ist) you seemed to have recovered quite well from your cold (or was it a fever) of the other day!

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 7 January 2005 20:38 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I've met his daughter. She's nice. Good singer, too.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Friday, 7 January 2005 21:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I love this picture, even though it's got Robbie Robertson in it!

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 7 January 2005 21:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Strangely, I got a drum set for Christmas. I can play a bit on most things, but I sux at de drums. As I have been spending much time practicing and watched the Last Waltz twice last week, I have had Levon on the mind. What an amazing talent. (as was all the Band, even Robbie. He did write all those great songs, the bastard) I have heard he has a bad heroin habit, from what I consider a very reliable source. Hope it ain't true.

saltbox and a rubber ball (Speedy Gonzalas), Saturday, 8 January 2005 08:08 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Levon is one of those drummers like Jim Keltner who are revered by lots of drummers even though they're not super show-offy with lots of fills and shit. Plus he sings lead from the kit which is pretty hard.

Bryan (Bryan), Saturday, 8 January 2005 08:11 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

And even though he never played for James Brown, he is one funky drummer.

Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 8 January 2005 08:24 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Levon a bad heroin habit? I hope not. Maybe you're getting mixed up with Garth Hudson. He did take smack for years to control his Parkinsons or whatever he had. Garth was a wonderful singer (the band's best after Manuel shot his voice to pieces - he barely takes a lead in Last Waltz) and arguably the greatest rock bassist. The way he locked in with Levon and bounced around the frets. Oh man. They're just an amazing rhythm section. I wish Neil Young recorded more with them, cos that song on On The Beach is amazing.

stew, Saturday, 8 January 2005 12:26 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Levon Helm is the man. His yodelling on "Up on Cripple Creek" always makes me smile.

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Saturday, 8 January 2005 14:21 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

x-post which track?

Bumfluff, Saturday, 8 January 2005 14:24 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Stew, you must mean Rick Danko, who was indeed a great bassist.

Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 8 January 2005 14:26 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"has anyone read his book?"

Bitter, baby, bitter. He's definitely not a member of the Robbie Robertson fan club. And while I wish him the best health-wise, and enjoy his keening vocals, IMO he's a crap drummer. Part of the reason that Live in 1966 Dylan thing is so exciting is because studio cat Bobby Gregg is behind the kit instead of Levon.

lovebug starski (lovebug starski), Saturday, 8 January 2005 14:57 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, he does seem to be bitter-my understanding is that Levon was the leader of the band in the beginning but by time time of The Last Waltz the reins of power where firmly in the hands of the scarf wearing guitar player. But "crap drummer," lovebug? Have you heard, I dunno, "The Weight"?

Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 8 January 2005 15:18 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I'll try to listen again but drums aren't the first thing that come to mind when recalling "The Weight." Subtle or plodding? U decide.

lovebug starski (lovebug starski), Saturday, 8 January 2005 15:24 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

drums aren't the first thing that come to mind when recalling "The Weight."
They are for me.

Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 8 January 2005 15:36 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Shit, Levon is a fine drummer. They were all good in that Band.

I've read Levon's book--have an autographed copy, even. It's worth reading just because you get a sense of how they developed outside the normal channels of '60s rock. They earned what I think is their smugness (seen to great effect in "Last Waltz," which is a good film and which actually makes me like Joni Mitchell's "Coyote"). OK, they did indeed see Sonny Boy Williamson spit blood into a cup--but they come across like they're the fucking torchbearers of the "real thing" and it's kind of awful, actually. Robertson's the one who comes across like a total asshole in that film.

Also, they didn't make too much good stuff after 1969--I like parts of "Northern Cross" and their take on "Third Man Theme" is nice. Parts of the Toussaint-arranged live album is good. What a waste, though--they could outplay anyone on their best days and they opted for settling into that Americana crap, they never really advanced at all. And honestly, "Big Pink" doesn't sound the same to me any more, something wrong there. "Great" but now I get a bad feeling from that music, which might be the point.

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Saturday, 8 January 2005 16:46 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

eddie hurt otm as usual. Has anyone else seen the VH-1 thing about the making of The Band. It is must see. Some highlights:
Levon sitting at a mixing board isolating various components of "Cripple Creek" and other songs and saying things like

"Richard had the ability to go (points finger upward) 'eeeee!''
"Garth, dressing it up"

Eric Clapton talking about Richard Manuel saying something like "The guy had this amazing energy, this amazing negative energy, so you would feel yourself drawn to him, even if he were cringing in the corner of the room."

Rick Danko:
I think what happened to him was that once he got the monkey off his back, he started overeating as a way of compensating and put a lot of strain on his heart.

To me there was something visually very striking about the way Rick played bass. Did anybody else flap their elbow as much as he did?

Ken L (Ken L), Sunday, 9 January 2005 07:04 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

>Also, they didn't make too much good stuff after 1969

"Makes No Difference"!

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Sunday, 16 January 2005 20:07 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I would have to talk to an old friend to verify this, so take it as a twice told tale.
My friend was the photograper for an ill-fated All The Kings Men project. The whole session had to move to Woodstock because they wanted Levon and Rick on a song and Levon and Rick wouldn't travel due to their need to have a steady reliable supply of herion. It may have been Danko only that had this issue but I recall it being both of them. I hope not as herion kills so many too soon.

saltbox and a rubber ball (Speedy Gonzalas), Sunday, 16 January 2005 21:28 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

fill at 2:14-2:16 is just sweet as fuck if you love the Band, which I do:

J0hn D., Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:04 (nine years ago) Permalink

i love levon

ie: BANGING (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:08 (nine years ago) Permalink

is that from Festival Express?

ie: BANGING (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:08 (nine years ago) Permalink

another check in the "rock dudes who use traditional grip" column

Tracy Michael Jordan Catalano (Jordan), Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

Shooter cameo - A+++++++

sad man in him room (milo z), Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

such a great drummer.

tipsy mothra, Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:14 (nine years ago) Permalink

fuck he rules.

cutty, Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:14 (nine years ago) Permalink

that fill is fabulous, propelling him into the chorus, the sticks literally jumping with his excitement about joining voices with his brothers.

Euler, Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:16 (nine years ago) Permalink

another check in the "rock dudes who use traditional grip" column

― Tracy Michael Jordan Catalano (Jordan), Wednesday, January 14, 2009 11:09 PM (8 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

also bun e carlos

ie: BANGING (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:18 (nine years ago) Permalink

really? looked up some videos and he's playing matched, although i didn't know that he's left-handed and plays that way sometimes (me too).

Tracy Michael Jordan Catalano (Jordan), Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:32 (nine years ago) Permalink

ah maybe i mistook lefthandedness for trad grip

ie: BANGING (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 14 January 2009 23:35 (nine years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

Who's heard Electric Dirt? I never knew he released an album in 2007, reading some reviews on the new one got me inclined to pick it up.

willem, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 07:45 (eight years ago) Permalink

erm, shouldn't be this on ILM?

willem, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 08:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

"Dear Friends,
Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage...

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy"

tylerw, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 19:53 (five years ago) Permalink

not super surprising, considering the last decade or so but still sad.

tylerw, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 19:54 (five years ago) Permalink

I had tickets to his show this Friday, which just got cancelled. I assumed it was because of the slipped disc in his back, but fuck, this fucking sucks.

Waterloo? Oh, we've sunsetted that. (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 17 April 2012 19:55 (five years ago) Permalink


some dude, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 19:59 (five years ago) Permalink

didn't realize this thread was ILE...maybe it should be moved to ILM?

tylerw, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:08 (five years ago) Permalink

anyway, what an amazing musician. such a cool, unique drummer, in addition to having one of the great voices of the last half-century or so.

tylerw, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:09 (five years ago) Permalink

This Wheel's On Fire was a rough read. Ride that mystery train, Levon.

Euler, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:10 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh shit. This guy is all time. I have a picture of him hanging in my living room.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:12 (five years ago) Permalink


Love this guy.

Johnny Fever, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:12 (five years ago) Permalink

He's going to be missed. Many of my friends have traveled to Marvell or Woodstock to shake his hand. Hopefully he knows he's appreciated.

pplains, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:15 (five years ago) Permalink

always seemed like a guy who lived for music, loved performing -- just watching those Last Waltz interview clips, you can tell how little he cared for mythmaking in the way Robertson did.

tylerw, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:19 (five years ago) Permalink

^ this. I mean, the guy bailed on Dylan's 1966 tour and worked on an oil rig. "What? They were booing us. I didn't like being booed."

Waterloo? Oh, we've sunsetted that. (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:21 (five years ago) Permalink

Once you read Levon's book, you learn how a bunch of Canadians were able to pass as Americans.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:23 (five years ago) Permalink

Damn. <3 Helm forever

Kiarostami bag (milo z), Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:27 (five years ago) Permalink

One of the all-time greats.

i just believe in memes (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:44 (five years ago) Permalink


one dis leads to another (ian), Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:54 (five years ago) Permalink

my brother and i were listening to Big Pink last weekend and just marveling at what a *different* sound all of those guys made together. even though they were certainly influential on their peer group and beyond, I don't know if anything else really sounds like them. for a while there anyway, the creativity level was insanely high.

tylerw, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 20:57 (five years ago) Permalink

A fucking great musician with the sort of love for the whole huge world of music that leaves a huge impact on others, on how they experience music. An underpraised singer.

same old song and placenta (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Tuesday, 17 April 2012 21:34 (five years ago) Permalink

god it's beautiful to have a wordsmith like fagen describe helm so perfectly

Neil Young’s social media channels (some dude), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 19:37 (five years ago) Permalink


still bummed that he's really gone

Peppermint Patty Hearst (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 19:38 (five years ago) Permalink

They should hire Fagen and Becker to write negative obituaries.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 19:47 (five years ago) Permalink

save it for another thread josh

that's a really nice piece.

I couldn't figure out how he could keep that thuddy, cycling pulse so even, making every fill and roll, and yet sing so well at the same time. He made all those machines - the sticks, the skins, the pedals, the cymbals, even the microphone - into living extensions of his own body. Without ever sounding mechanical, he always put the downbeat in that sweet spot. Locking in with Levon was the easiest gig I've ever had.

gets at some of the stuff i was trying to express upthread

l0u1s j0rdan (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:04 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah was listening to rock of ages over the weekend, and it was clear how much the band followed levon's lead, like they could just bounce around helm's drums. even danko, who is the other part of the rhythm section, had enormous freedom.

tylerw, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 20:09 (five years ago) Permalink

Which link is better for the xpost Levon & the Hawks set? File Factory's freebie keeps being fully in use--"try again"--and that skeeball thing, h'm-m-m.

dow, Friday, 4 May 2012 14:59 (five years ago) Permalink

i did it through filefactory, which, yeah is a pain in the ass. i would put it up on mediafire, but i've been kicked off of there.

tylerw, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:09 (five years ago) Permalink

Remembrance from Donald Fagen

Sorry, but I've got this non-stop refrain in my head now

Rock of Ages
Lost Wages
Rock of Ages
Lost Wages

Stars on 45 Fell on Alabama (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 4 May 2012 15:41 (five years ago) Permalink

Tyler, anybody, have you tried http://bbchron.blogspot.com Levon & Friends 70tn Birthday Jubilee?

dow, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:43 (five years ago) Permalink

haven't! looks pretty good though.

tylerw, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:50 (five years ago) Permalink

James, would love to hear some kind of Steely Band mash-up, esp from the early prime of both.

dow, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:52 (five years ago) Permalink

save it for another thread josh

Ha, I meant to cast no aspirations on the beautiful tribute to Levon he wrote. I just think, incidental to Levon, that those guys would write hilariously mean obituaries.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 4 May 2012 16:42 (five years ago) Permalink

A friend in Kingston writes:
Also see http://fooooo.com/w/ce051061b5833c6557c2348b33df1b76which is very local. The cornfield scenes were shot about half a mile from where I used to live, and the band scenes were shot in our spookiest bar, Snyder's, which is kind of a haunted house that sells Bud Lite. Levon was our most prominent local citizen--sure wish tickets to his Rambles hadn't cost $100 a pop, so that I never could go to one (L had bigtime medical bills)

dow, Friday, 4 May 2012 16:47 (five years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
three months pass...

Dunno how to search for a thread on the Band, but this just announced:

Garth Hudson presents a Canadian Tribute to the Band

*Garth Hudson produced and plays keyboards on all tracks along with the following artists:

1. Danny Brooks & The Rockin’ Revelators - Forbidden Fruit

2. Mary Margaret O’Hara - Out of the Blue

3. Peter Katz & The Curious - Acadian Driftwood

4. Neil Young & Sadies - This Wheel’s on Fire

5. Suzie McNeil - Ain’t Got No Home

6. Cowboy Junkies - Clothes Line Saga

7. Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckly - You Ain’t Going Nowhere

8. Bruce Cockburn & Blue Rodeo - Sleeping

9. The Road Hammers - Yazoo Street Scandal

10. Raine Maida - The Moon Struck One

11. The Sadies - The Shape I’m In

12. Chantal Kreviazuk - Tears of Rage

13. I Loved Your Too Much – Hawksley Workman

14. Great Big Sea - Knockin’ Lost John

15. Blue Rodeo - King Harvest

16. The Trews - Move to Japan

17. Garth Hudson - Genetic Method (Anew)

18. Ian Thornley & Bruce Cockburn - Chest Fever

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 22 August 2012 14:52 (five years ago) Permalink

damn no Chadvril?

some dude, Wednesday, 22 August 2012 14:57 (five years ago) Permalink

pretty sure this already exists? at least i heard the neil young/sadies contribution at least a year ago. it's great.

tylerw, Wednesday, 22 August 2012 14:57 (five years ago) Permalink


tylerw, Wednesday, 22 August 2012 15:19 (five years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

sounds great, maybe they'll do "levon"

tylerw, Wednesday, 6 February 2013 21:15 (four years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Dpcumentary, released in 2010, but much more extensive screenings coming up, also DVD--enticingly described here: Levon steppin' lively no matter whut:
Screen dates, trailer and other goodies here:

dow, Thursday, 18 April 2013 23:29 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Ain't In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm

So is it worth seeing?

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 28 May 2013 19:42 (four years ago) Permalink


“Ain’t in It for My Health,” an affectionate documentary by Jacob Hatley, examines Helm’s face and voice up close, at several points following its subject into the doctor’s office, where we’re literally shown Helm’s ravaged vocal cords, via a camera at the end of a flexible tube down the singer’s throat.


Don’t look for any new or deep psychological insights from Helm about his relationships with the members of his old group.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 28 May 2013 19:47 (four years ago) Permalink

Feel like I must have already seen that footage at a Butthole Surfers gig.

Oulipo Traces (on a Cigarette) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 28 May 2013 19:53 (four years ago) Permalink

As much as I love Levon Helm, that's more than I wanna know. I mean, I don't really wanna see Keith Moon's liver, either.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Tuesday, 28 May 2013 20:12 (four years ago) Permalink

Wife is tremendous Levin fanatic. Is this worth a 90 minute detour on our way home from a wedding out of state?

Jimmywine Dyspeptic, Tuesday, 28 May 2013 21:07 (four years ago) Permalink

err, 'Levon,' obvs

Jimmywine Dyspeptic, Tuesday, 28 May 2013 21:07 (four years ago) Permalink

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