Levon helmet

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Levon Helm in 1976 with The Band

Mark Lavon "Levon" helmet (born May 26, 1940 in Elaine , Arkansas , † April 19, 2012 in New York City ) was an American musician. He played from 1958 at the Rockabilly - singer Ronnie Hawkins , later he was a founding member of The Band . Levon Helm's main instrument was the drums , but he also played guitar and mandolin . His singing gave many of The Band's classics a distinctive voice.


Levon Helm (2004)

Levon Helm was a son of the American South; he grew up on a farm in the Mississippi Delta and was cultivated from childhood with the rich musical tradition of this region. In contrast to many rock musicians of his time, the styles of country , blues , gospel and folk were not motifs of longing for him, but part of his early socialization. After seeing Elvis Presley , Levon Helm wanted to play rock 'n' roll himself . His role models also included Bo Diddley and Peck Curtis , drummers with Sonny Boy Williamson II and The King Biscuit Boys. After moving to Memphis , 17-year-old Levon Helm was discovered by Ronnie Hawkins in 1957 and taken under his wing. Helm played the drums when recording Hawkins hits Mary Lou and Forty Days . Although he had not finished school, he followed Hawkins to Toronto in 1958 . In 1963 he left Ronnie Hawkins with his fellow Canadian musicians Rick Danko , Garth Hudson , Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson to go down in rock music history first as Levon and the Hawks and later as The Band.

Bob Dylan hired "The Hawks" as a backing band in mid-1965, having recently met guitarists Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm. Weary of the hostility of many Dylan fans - who saw his new, electrically amplified music as a betrayal of folk ideals - Levon Helm left Bob Dylan shortly afterwards. He returned to Arkansas and wanted to leave the music business behind for good. In mid-1967, however, Dylan and his band, now called "The Band", brought him back because of the recordings for the Basement Tapes . They needed Helm's voice and his percussion. After the Basement Tapes, The Band split from Dylan and recorded their first studio album, Music from Big Pink . Pieces like The Weight and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down , in which Helm sang the lead vocals, became The Band's best-known tracks. After their last studio album Islands and their farewell concert The Last Waltz in 1976, the group broke up. Levon Helm did not remain quiet for long. In 1977 he recorded his first solo album, Levon Helm and the RCO All Stars , followed by Levon Helm in 1978. Two more solo albums followed in 1980 and 1982, and the Band reunited with Jim Weider , who replaced Robbie Robertson. In 1993 he founded his own record studio in Woodstock and his autobiography This Wheel's On Fire was published .

Late work

Levon Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late 1990s. He underwent lengthy radiotherapy . Miraculously his lost health and tenor voice returned to the point where he was able to start a series of concerts in 2002 with the vocal support of his daughter Amy, the multi-instrumentalist and producer Larry Campbell and his wife Teresa Williams. These concerts initially took place under the name "Midnight Ramble" with a number of illustrious guests (including Elvis Costello , Donald Fagen , Jon Herrington , Emmylou Harris , Dr. John , Kris Kristofferson ) regularly in his barn near Woodstock (New York) . Levon Helm was able to use the proceeds to cover his high treatment costs. With the core cast of the weekly "Midnight Rambles", Levon Helm released three albums: "Dirt Farmer" (2007), "Electric Dirt" (2009) and the live album "Ramble at the Ryman" (2011). All three albums won a Grammy.

Helm had a role as an old blind man who only listens to Mexican radio in the 2005 film Three Burials - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada . Other roles in major Hollywood productions such as Shooter and In the Electric Mist followed .

At the Grammy Awards 2008 Helm received the award in the category "Best Traditional Folk Album" for Dirt Farmer . In February 2009 Levon Helm was voted 91st of the 100 greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone , My Morning Jacket singer Jim James wrote in his tribute about Helm: “ After Papa Garth Hudson didn't really sing, I always felt Levon as the vocal father figure in The Band. He looks strong and self-confident, just like a father who calls you home or scolds you. … Levon's voice, it's like a sturdy old farmhouse. ”In 2016, the same magazine listed Helm 22nd of the 100 best drummers of all time . The song Levon on Elton John's album Madman Across the Water (1971) is named after Levon Helm.

Levon Helm died on April 19, 2012 at the age of 71 as a result of cancer .


In 2013, a section of New York State Route 375 near the village of Woodstock was named after Levon Helm. The street is now called Levon Helm Memorial Boulevard .


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Dirt Farmer
  US 102 11/17/2007 (5 weeks)
Electric dirt
  US 36 07/18/2009 (9 weeks)
Ramble at the Ryman
  US 144 06/04/2011 (2 weeks)
  • Levon Helm & the RCO All Stars (1977)
  • Levon helmet (1978)
  • American Son
  • Levon Helm (1982)
  • Souvenir (with The Crowmatix)
  • The Ties That Bind, 1975-1996
  • Dirt Farmer (2007)
  • Electric Dirt (2009)
  • Ramble at the Ryman (2011)

See also The Band's albums .



Web links

Commons : Levon Helm  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Levon Helm, Drummer and Singer of the Band, Dies at 71
  2. Andrian Kreye : "The night when the old south went under." In: Süddeutsche Zeitung No. 93, 21./22. April 2012, p. 16.
  3. The Band drummer Levon Helm is dead
  4. Levon Helm. The Classic Drummer Interview by Bob Girouard ( Memento of the original from May 4, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.levonhelm.com
  5. Jim James: "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time - Levon Helm" in Rolling Stone 2/2009
  6. 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time. Rolling Stone , March 31, 2016, accessed August 6, 2017 .
  7. ^ Levon Helm Memorial Boulevard dedicated in Woodstock. Mid-Hudson News Network, 2013, accessed November 22, 2016 .
  8. US chart history
  9. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.junoawards.ca
  10. https://www.rockhall.com/inductees/the-band/bio/
  11. ^ Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame
  12. http://www.grammy.com/Recording_Academy/Awards/Lifetime_Awards/