RIP: Levon Helm 1940 – 2012

Levon Helm, was born in Marvell, Arkansas. He grew up in Turkey Scratch, a hamlet West of Helena, Arkansas. His parents were cotton farmers, and they were also music lovers, which is how Levon got turned on to music. Levon began playing the guitar at the age of 8 and started to play the drums later on. When he saw, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, that’s when he decided that he wanted to become a full time musician. Over the years, Helm was a big fan of blues, southern country music, and rockabilly. Helm began playing around bars and clubs in his hometown of Helena, at the age of 17.

After Helm graduated high school, he was asked to join Ronnie Hawkins band, the Hawks, which they would later tour as Bob Dylan’s backing band. The legendary classic rock band, The Band, formed later on as a few members were from the Hawks. They got their name, the Band, ’cause what Bob Dylan referred them to. Helm was going to name themselves either, The Honkies, or the Crackers but the label didn’t agree with those names.

The Band, is most famous for their anthem, “The Weight”, which you still hear on the radio and through Hollywood movies (most notably, “Easy Rider”) to this day. The Band, reformed in 1983 for a tour.

Over the years, Levon continued to perform live and make music as a solo act for the Midnight Ramble sessions. Which is a series of live performances in his studio in Woodstock, New York. These were fundraiser concerts to help raise money for his medical bills after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Levon Helm, passed away today, he was 71 years old.


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