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At that exact time my wife was living in Winter Park, Fl. which is where Richard ended it all. It was a tragic event and Eric Clapton's song Holy Mother was written in honor of him. A beautiful song.

I just finished reading Levon Helms' autobiography This Wheel's on Fire and he talks openly about Manuels' death.

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The Band is yet another group I need to check out.

But they sure do some fine playing here with Joni Mitchell.

Hmm..well let's try this again.

Well hell's bells, just a great night I'm having here.

Trust me. They did a fine job backing Joni on a great song "Coyote."

Edited by missytootsweet
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  • 1 year later...

From Levon Helm's website:

Dear Friends,

Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage...

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.

From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy

Edited by Jahfin
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I am very sorry and shocked to read this horribly sad news. I had thought (had hoped) that he was improving. His This Wheel's on Fire is one of my favorite books about music and the music culture.

Sending prayers. God Bless Levon and his family.

I will always remember him as a beautiful blond drummer boy.

Damn cancer.

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I never did see The Band, at least the version that included Robbie Robertson. They were scheduled to play The Attic in Greenville, NC back in '86 but the night before the show Richard Manuel hung himself in his motel room in Florida. Years later, they were part of an afternoon of music billed as "Music From Big Pink" that played at Woodstock '94. In addition to The Band, the other musicians on stage that day included Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen from Hot Tuna, Roger McGuinn, Bruce Hornsby, Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at that one. I was camped not far away, up on a hill from the South Stage so it was only a short stroll down to where they were playing.

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I was fortunate to have seen the original line-up, several times, in the 1970s. My husband had the best experience, I think. We've talked about the fact that, although we didn't know one another yet, I was at the LZ MSG concerts in NYC that same weekend he was seeing The Band at the Watkins Glen music festival. The highlight, he's told me, is the moment when The Band, The Allman Brothers, and The Grateful Dead all took the stage together for the finale.

Levon is an American treasure - one of the best. First class and a gentleman. As one of my friends wrote earlier today (alluding to Levon's background, music, musical influences): "He reminds you of what made America great."

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Thanks for sharing your stories. I had always wanted to catch one of Levon's Rambles up in Woodstock but alas, that'll never happen now. A few years ago he even did one at MerleFest in North Wilkesboro, NC. I missed that one but several of my friends that were in attendance are still raving about it.

It was one of my older brothers that turned me onto The Band, at least beyond the music I knew from the radio. Back in the 70's and 80's we'd spend countless hours out at his place in the country just hanging out, spinning records and making mixtapes. We listened to a lot of stuff by The Band but the one that seemed to get played the most often was Stage Fright. Around a year or so ago I was out at his place to celebrate his birthday when he told me someone had given him a refurbished turntable. The first album to get played that night? You guessed it, Stage Fright. Several years ago I gave this same brother a copy of Levon's Dirt Farmer. I hate to admit it but I had to explain to him who Levon was, even though my brother is as well versed in The Band as almost anyone I've ever met, at least as far as their music is concerned. Once he started listening I'm sure he made the connection. Even though Levon's voice sounded different post-cancer it was still pretty unmistakable.

Edited by Jahfin
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That's a great story. Yes, I remember the long-lost days where countless hours were spent hanging out, spinning records, and making mixtapes. The Band's music was an integral part of the soundtrack of our youth in the 1970's (and for younger fans like yourself, the 80's too). Stage Fright is one of the band's masterpieces.


I remember my friends and I singing this song while we were working on a project in a junior high home ec class and our teacher at the time threatened us with detention. This was in NY and she completely confused the sheer joy we felt and were sharing from the music with corrunpting the other students with a pro-Confederate message:

Prayers and Love to you, Levon

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Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson Send Prayers to Levon (from Relix)

Levon Helm’s two surviving The Band co-founders, Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson, have both issues statements about the drummer’s condition. As previously reported, The Band drummer is “in the final stages of his battle with cancer.”

In message on his homepage, Hudson—The Band’s keyboardist—stated, “I am too sad for words right now. Please continue praying for Levon and family.” He also posts a link to the video above. Hudson and Helm first met as members of Ronnie Hawkins’ Hawks and continued to perform together through the latter day Band’s final shows in the late ’90s. In recent years, the musicians have continued to collaborate at Helm’s Midnight Rambles as well as at select other dates. Earlier this year, Hudson and Helm played a special tribute to Band co-founders Rick Danko and Richard Manuel at Helm’s studio before the drummer underwent a medical procedure.

Band guitarist Robbie Robertson and Helm also started performing together in The Hawks but their relationship has been strained since The Band parted ways for the first time in the late ’70s. Though the two musicians have not performed together in years, Robertson posted the following message on his Facebook page:

Last week I was shocked and so saddened to hear that my old band mate, Levon, was in the final stages of his battle with cancer. It hit me really hard because I thought he had beaten throat cancer and had no idea that he was this ill. I spoke with his family and made arrangements to go and see him.

On Sunday I went to New York and visited him in the hospital. I sat with Levon for a good while…, and thought of the incredible and beautiful times we had together. It was heartwarming to be greeted by his lovely daughter Amy, whom I have known since she was born. Amy’s mother, Libby Titus, and her husband, Donald Fagen, were so kind to help walk me through this terrible time of sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sandy.

Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I’ve ever known and very much like an older brother to me. I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever.

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Joe Henry on Levon.


As I sit writing this, on the late evening of April 17, Levon Helm is not yet gone, but neither is he fully here among the living. As we understand from his family, he is hovering now at the doorway between this world and the next…taking the air of mortals in shallow and halting breaths, but with his eyes rolled back against the drawn curtain of his times. Already, for many of us sadly absorbing the falling shoe of this news and preparing for the other, he has assumed the flickering posture of memory; of those who have danced alive in our high beams, throwing shadows that move like ancient black rivers, and pointing the way forward from so far behind us that he shall forever, hence forth, stand ahead on the pathway like an omen of what is still to come.

Levon entered my life when I was so young as to have had no notion that my gate needed a guard; thus, he waltzed right in and I was completely vulnerable to his raucous and ranging alchemy, and he changed me. Like children pulled into ministerial service when still in single digits, I looked unquestioningly upon Levon Helm as my church elder…a deacon who spoke our gospel; who swung- and sung-out time in glorious illumination of its wild and elastic poetry. In the same way that his great friend and sometimes-boss Bob Dylan connected the dots between Jimmy Reed, Arthur Rimbaud, and Muhammad Ali, so Levon drew the second line that had Howlin’ Wolf, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Hank Williams all dancing out in front of the same New Orleans funeral party. (They all walked liked Bo Diddley and didn’t need no crutch.)

As I await word of the inevitable –while we all wait— I find there is nothing I can do but listen. And when I do, I am moved; moving…leaning, as implied, from the past tense into present action; loosing my mind to the instinctive sway of my knees and shoulders, as I am reminded how much of our true intelligence resides in our bodies’ southern hemisphere.

Yes, all we can do this day is listen and move. But then, that is all Levon Helm ever asked of any of us.

Joe Henry

South Pasadena, CA

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I just found out about 10 mins ago. Levon's pasing is very sad for me. I got into The Band in the late 90's after hearing The Band eversince 1968. Levon had alot of class and a great voice. What a great musician he was. He will be missed.

RIP Levon.

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Love what Bernie Taupin wrote about Levon. The man has a way with words.

Bernie Taupin responds

Bernie Taupin, Elton John's songwriter and the band who penned the tune "Levon" (named after Helm), wrote this remembrance on his website:

"The first time I heard Levon Helm's voice was in a small record shop on Berwick Street in Soho London sometime around 1969. What was it like? Paul on the road to Damascus!

"Oh, I guess I just want to say all these things about the earth and granite of his being, the raw Appalachian timber of his voice and the powerful sway of his backbeat. The throb of his tom-toms the first time I heard 'Tears Of Rage' and that wicked, knowing smile recounting tales of Carney barkers and backwater medicine shows. I'm thinking about him behind that economical kit, the way he hunched his shoulders and turned into the mike like a coiled spring when he sang.

"He was one of three great singers in The Band, three of the greatest singers in any band, and the last of those three to leave us. What other band under God's great Heaven gave us a trio of such eloquent and awesome sonic tools? Richard Manuel had an otherworldly voice, ethereal and legitimately spooky in the best way possible. Rick Danko, with whom I spent some questionably manic moments and cerebral hours and whom I loved dearly, sang like an unfettered young buck, all tremulous beauty and with poignant longing. Anyone doubting this just listen to his vocal on 'It Makes No Difference' from the 'The Last Waltz' soundtrack, one of the best live vocal performances I've ever heard.

"Then there was Levon: a voice that seemed as it was birthed from the land from which he sprung. Rich as Arkansas soil and raw as a plug of tobacco, gnarly as knotted pine and so expressive it seemed like he was chewing on the words before they left his mouth. Now he's gone and our anemic musical horizon has one less icon to cling to and one more legacy to embrace.

"We're blessed that he battled his illness and conquered it for a spell, pushed back the inevitable, stuck up his hand and like some hard scrabble farmer in a gothic Southern novel said “Whoa boy, I ain't done ploughin'.”

"He participated in some of the greatest music I've ever heard and because of him and the boys in The Band, my soul is clearer of musical debris and tuned into the lyrical soul of the American heartland and the soul of Appalachia.

"If I'm any good at what I do, it's because he inspired me to be better.

"Sleep with angels, Levon. Say hi to the boys, and see you in church."

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Thanks for posting that. It wasn't until recently that I learned the story behind "Levon". I figured it was probably tied to Levon Helm in some way, I was just never sure how. In case you haven't watched the Classic Albums special I posted earlier in the thread, I think you (and everyone else here for that matter) would enjoy it. Among those contributing commentary is Bernie Taupin.

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