On April 19, 2012, the world lost a brilliant musician. With the passing of Levon Helm after a long battle with cancer, the public is reflecting on Helm's long and influential career. A great drummer with a soulful voice, he’s left an amazing catalogue of Americana behind.
Here are just five things that make Levon Helm great:
5. He Published an Autobiography
Helm’s 1993 autobiography This Wheel’s On Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band gives his fans a glimpse at his childhood, being raised in the deep south, to his discovery of music, and the formation of The Band. Helm also accuses Robbie Robertson of conspiring with record companies to steal songwriting credits from the rest of the members of The Band.
4. He Performed in Berlin After the Wall Came Down
After the Berlin Wall came down, former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters organized a special live performance of Pink Floyd’s magnum opus The Wall. Levon Helm, along with Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, performed as The Band to an estimated half a million people.
3. He was an Accomplished Actor
Helm didn’t act in many films, and despite his appearance in Steven Segal's Fire Down Below, he gave incredible performances in Coal Miner’s Daughter, The Right Stuff, and the unique and disturbing film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.
2. He was the Glue in The Band
Don’t let The Last Waltz fool you! Levon Helm was the heart and soul of The Band. Playing drums and mandolin and performing vocals on “The Weight,” "Up on Cripple Creek," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and “Ophelia," it was his unique fusion of country and blues that made The Band legendary.
1. He was a Musician Until the End
Levon Helm never slowed down, either performing solo or with The Band, he toured and performed right up until this year. He received the first ever Grammy for an Americana album for Dirt Farmer (2007) and released Electric Dirt in 2009 and the live album Ramble at the Ryman in 2011.