Levon Helm with Dennis Elsas
Levon Helm with Dennis Elsas (photo courtesy of Dennis Elsas)
"Levon Helm passed peacefully on April 19, 2012. He was surrounded by family, friends and bandmates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul." - LevonHelm.com
We remember Levon through the music that touched us and the time he spent with us. [See: Levon Helm photos]
Levon Helm is an American treasure. Beginning as a drummer with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, later working with Bob Dylan and then as a founding member of the legendary Band, he has always been regarded as a “musician’s musician.”
He’s also an accomplished film actor with critically acclaimed performances in Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Right Stuff. His book This Wheel’s on Fire provided an inside look into the Band’s storied history.
In 1996 Levon was diagnosed with throat cancer and his distinctive singing voice was silenced for a while, until he recovered enough to start hosting his Midnight Ramble shows in Woodstock, and go on to record two Grammy-winning albums. But when Levon Helm stopped by WFUV for a live studio visit with me on November 24, 2000, he sat in on drums with a local band, The Electrix.
He was unable to sing that day, but Levon lit up the room with his energy and enthusiasm. We spoke about his history and the dawn of the new century, and since it was Thanksgiving weekend, we reminisced about The Band’s farewell performance, dubbed The Last Waltz.
Listen to part of that conversation below.