The news of the passing of The Band’s singer/drummer/mandolin player Levon Helm continues to make waves through the music industry, with those who knew him, and those who played with him, weighing in.
Bob Dylan hired the members of The Band (which also included guitarist Robbie Robertson, bassist Rick Danko, pianist Richard Manuel and keyboardist/sax player Garth Hudson) to be his backing group shortly after he “went electric.” A few years later, they broke off on their own as The Band.
Dylan, who rarely addresses his audience, either from the stage or online, posted the following on his website: “He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation. This is just so sad to talk about. I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together.”
Elton John, who has long cited The Band as a huge influence, naming one of his biggest hits (“Levon”) and his son (Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John) after Helm, told Entertainment Weekly, “When I heard The Band’s Music from Big Pink, their music changed my life…Nigel Olson, my drummer, will tell you that every drummer that heard him was influenced by him. He was the greatest drummer and a wonderful singer and just a part of my life that was magical…They really changed the face of music when their records came out.”
Sheryl Crow, a fan who recently was a special guest at the show recorded for Helm’s latest release, Ramble At The Ryman, tweeted, “My heart heavy with sad news of Levon Helm’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with Levon’s family.”
Finally, Garth Hudson, the soft-spoken multi-instrumentalist who played with Helm in The Band, posted on his website: “I am terribly sad. Thank you for 50 years of friendship and music… No more sorrows, no more troubles, no more pain… He was Buddy Rich’s favorite rock drummer… and my friend. Levon, I’m proud of you.”
– Brian Ives, CBS Local