The Backbone of “The Band” has died Levon Helm 1940-2012

Levon Helm

Such great sadness within two days for the music world with the passing of Dick Clark and now legendary musician Levon Helm of “The Band”.

May 26, 1940 ~ April 19, 2012

He was 71 years old but some how it still felt like the days they all played at Woodstock in 1969. Ironically this is where Helm chose to reside, Woodstock, N.Y.

The music this man and this group produced was phenomenal and was another who accomplished writing our 60’s counter-culture soundtrack.

Helm’s journey would take him from where he was born in Arkansas to Canada in 1959 when he was invited to join rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins’ group ” The Hawkes” already known though the south and a favorite in Canada when Hawkins decided to move to Toronto. There he would meet some other Canadian born musicians and co-found what would become one of the most prolific bands of rock music history. Simply naming the group, The Band.

Playing in a style with a mixture of Folk, Rock and Country Rock they seem to fit in perfectly ending up being Bob Dylan’s back up band and ultimately on their own would become major creative players of one of the greatest bands ever with Helm as the anchor.

With their origins being from Toronto, Ontario, Canada it was only befitting that the video I chose to highlight came from the 1970 Festival Express a train ride through Canada with some of the biggest names of Rock and Roll’s stars of that day, with a performance in Toronto.

Robbie Robertson visited Levon in the hospital last Saturday.

Thankfully the past bitterness before the The Waltz performance captured on film in 1976 and sadly even past their 1994 Induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame when Levon refused to attend with Robertson had finally ended between the two.

Reading the article put a smile on my face knowing the two were as they should have been, friends at the end.

All I can say is Manuel who died in 1986, Danko who died in 1999 and now Levon are jamming in Heaven and it is rocking. With an audience of fans and Dick Clark MCing asking them to Rate A Record and no doubt the answer will be a 98.


Levon Helm – lead vocal, drums
Rick Danko – bass, backing vocal
Garth Hudson – organ
Richard Manuel – piano, backing vocal
Robbie Robertson – guitar



Mystery Train- Levon’s voice soared with Paul Butterfield’s harp.


And this will always be my favorite memory of The Band and the defining of the music and the era. A lot of partying with my friends to this song at that time in the early 70s. What great memories.


Heart Wrenching by Richard Manuel – I Shall Be Released


Levon Helm – When I Go Away


Early in the morning when the church bells toll
The choir’s going to sing, and the hearse will roll
On down to the graveyard, where it’s cold and grey
And then the sun’s gonna shine through the shadows when I go away

Don’t want no sorrow for this old orphan boy
I don’t want no crying, only tears of joy
GOnna see my mother, gonna see my father
And I’ll be bound for glory in the morning when I go away

I’ll be lifted up through the clouds on the wings of an angel
There’s only flesh and bones in the ground, where my troubles will stay
See that storm over yonder, it’s gonna rain all day
But then the sun’s gonna shine through the shadows when I go away

No more troubles
No more crying
No more trials
I’m going home to leave my worries in the graveyard
Home to leave my troubles in the graveyard
Home to leave to my trials…
And I’ll be bound for glory in the morning when I go away

All my kin who loves me, all my friends who care
Look beyond the dark clouds, we’re gonna meet up there
When they lay me in teh cold ground, bow your heads and pray
And I’ll be bound for glory in the morning when I go away
And the sun’s gonna shine through the shadows when I go away.

Amen Levon.

The weight of your pain and suffering has now been lifted and we will remember you with the joy through the music you have left us with. You have gone to join your brothers and all of you are in a better place. Only your body has left us your legacy, spirit and music will live on forever.



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Filed under Entertainment, MUSIC

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