As most know by now Saturday nights have become the night that we discuss something music related. I normally try my best to make it a subject that everyone or at the very least many of our readers can relate to. I understand that this is no more then a live thread with a simple subject that many do not even bother to read (this is evident by many of the answers that are so far off base....) and that is fine with me as it's not like I spend day putting these together. Tonight I will go off course a bit with something that matters to me and some others but I know going in will be lost on many others.
As many of you saw me mention on a post earlier this week the great Levon Helm passed away this week at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer. His claim to fame for those of you do not know is as the drummer, oft lead singer and founder of "The Band".
Helm started playing music at a young age followed by playing in clubs with his high school band and then immediately after graduating he joined the legendary Ronnie Hawkins and his band "The Hawks". Shortly after joining The Hawks they moved to Toronto and recruited a band of Canadians including Robbie Robertson, Rink Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. Three years later the band parted ways with Hawkins.
They went through several names and spent several years as a popular touring band in the south and throughout Canada. In the mid 60's Bob Dylan decided that he wanted to go electric (controversial among some to this day) and recruited Levon and his band to be his backing and touring band. This is of course when they became known as "The Band".
During the time they were know as "The Band" they were overshadowed by other stars of the day including Dylan himself but their influence and specifically that of Helm on American music cannot be overlooked. As a songwriter, producer and contributing musician Levon managed to work with and play with literally hundreds of well known and top musicians of our time. He was known by all in the industry as the guy that you brought in if you wanted to make things better. Be it one song or an entire album, he improved and bettered everything he touched musically. I would dare to guess that every single Americana, Folk, Cowpunk, Alt-Country or even just rock musician with any merit to their work owns a couple of "The Band" albums and probably a couple of Levon's solo works as well (Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt are two that I recommend). As far as his work that can be found on others albums, well I don't have enough time to list it all but if you are like me and read the liner notes on ever album and CD that you purchase you know that he is everywhere in popular music.
I don't know that I am the best of story tellers and there is not nearly enough space here to cover all the things about this great man but thank you for indulging me all the same (if you actually made it to this point). I do suggest that you track down some of his fine work with "The Band" or his solo works and give them a listen. He also has a great biography called "This Wheel's On Fire" that I have manged to read twice and think I might dig out again now. The Scorsese documentary "The Last Waltz" which besides being their last concert together as a band is a parade of who's who in music at the time (1976). Also for those of you that are in to film he can be seen in many movies. Most notably as Loretta Lynn's father in "Coal Miners Daughter" and as Air Force test pilot and engineer Jack Ridley in "The Right Stuff".