Join date: 2011-02-20
|Levon Helm, singer and drummer for the Band, dies at age 71 from throat cancer|| |
Photo from 1979
Levon Helm | 1940 - 2012 Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 and the illness reduced his voice to a whisper. But he still continued to sing on albums and at rollicking concerts at his Woodstock, N.Y., home. Helm was a key member of The Band and lent his distinctive Southern voice to classics like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
Levon was one of my favorite people ever. It was about 1984 the last time I saw him in concert, a great show at the Country Club in Reseda, CA. Helm also turned actor and was cast in a number of roles one of the most memorable for me was as "Ridley", aviation mechanic, assistant, and friend of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff
|Levon Helm, the widely respected and influential singer and drummer with the Band, whose Arkansas drawl colored the group's signature hits, including "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," died Thursday in New York of throat cancer. He was 71.|
One of three lead singers of the group that first gained fame backing Bob Dylan when he "went electric" in 1965, Helm and the Band largely created the template for a genre now labeled "Americana music" for its blend of rock, country, folk, blues and gospel strains.
"Levon is one of the most extraordinary, talented people I've ever known and very much like an older brother to me," the Band's guitarist Robbie Robertson said in a statement. "I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever."
Helm had been diagnosed in 1998 with throat cancer, which threatened to end his singing career; he declined a recommended laryngectomy, opting for radiation treatment instead. He died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Over a matter of several years, he regained the use of his voice, enjoying a latter-day career resurgence that yielded three Grammy Awards for his post-illness recordings "Dirt Farmer," "Electric Dirt" and "Ramble at the Ryman."
"The Band, more than any other group, put rock and roll back in touch with its roots," reads the group's entry at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted the Band in 1994. "With their ageless songs and solid grasp of musical idioms, the Band reached across the decades, making connections for a generation that was, as an era of violent cultural schisms wound down, in desperate search of them. They projected a sense of community in the turbulent late-'60s and early-'70s -- a time when the fabric of community in the United States was fraying."
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