The world lost a great one, as beloved drummer Levon Helm lost a lengthy battle with cancer on April 19th, 2012. One of the most iconic vocalists to ever grace the stage, Helm was a driving force behind some of The Band’s greatest music.
Helm was inspired by bluegrass legend Bill Monroe to become a musician at the age of six, and his family fortunately supported that decision. He would join Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band in the late 1950s at the age of 18, splitting time between performances and high school. By bringing in folks like Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and more, Helm’s musical universe greatly expanded. When Bob Dylan asked the band to back him, his universe expanded even wider.
It would be another few years before The Band officially formed, as a number of lineup changes and Dylan’s retraction from the public eye forced his backing musicians to regroup. When they released Music From The Big Pink in 1968, The Band became an overnight sensation. They would go on to release 10 albums in their career, but perhaps none of their work is more recognizable than their final performance, The Last Waltz.
With guest appearances from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Van Morrison, Paul Butterfield and more, The Last Waltz would be the final performance from the original configuration of the Band. Helm maintained an active musical career throughout his entire life thereafter, even winning a couple of Grammy awards in the 2000’s for work on his solo and live albums.
With Levon Helm on our mind, we hope you can sit back, relax, and enjoy this playlist of videos from The Band’s The Last Waltz below:
The Band – The Last Waltz
Rick Danko – bass, fiddle, vocals / Levon Helm – drums, mandolin, vocals / Garth Hudson – organ, piano, accordion, synthesizers, soprano saxophone, violin / Richard Manuel – piano, organ, drums, clavinet, dobro, vocals / Robbie Robertson – guitar, piano, vocals
Richard Cooper – trumpet, flugelhorn / James Gordon – flute, tenor saxophone, clarinet / Jerry Hay – trumpet, flugelhorn / Howard Johnson – tuba, baritone saxophone, flugelhorn, bass clarinet / Charlie Keagle – clarinet, flute, saxophone / Tom Malone – trombone, euphonium, alto flute
[Originally published 4/19/19]