“Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey,” wrote his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Amy, in a statement on LevonHelm.com. “Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat and make the people dance!”
All over the Internet, fans and musicians have been posting tributes to Helm, most frequently featuring video footage from The Last Waltz, the iconic 1976 Scorsese-directed concert film of The Band’s star-studded last gig. But with a career that spans decades, it’s worth pointing out some other great performances and celebrate the life and music of Mr. Levon Helm.
No video with this one, but the music speaks for itself. Levon Helm and his bandmate, the late Rick Danko, in Portland, with a guitar and a mandolin and a classic American story. Stellar.
“Up On Cripple Creek,” 1989
For a while in the ‘80s and ‘90s, members of The Band toured with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, a prestigious outfit which at various times included the likes of Gary “Dream Weaver” Wright and Richard Marx. This particular incarnation of The All-Stars includes some pretty impressive companions, including Billy Preston and Dr. John. Good company all around, and Helm just looks like he’s having the time of his life.
“Atlantic City,” 1994
In the ‘90s, The Band reformed with Helm and original members Rick Danko and Garth Hudson and recorded three albums. The first of these, Jericho, includes a really beautiful, bluegrass-tinged cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”:
“The Weight,” 2008
This isn’t the best quality, but there needed to be at least one proper Midnight Ramble performance included. A classic tune, a sax solo and tons of energy courtesy of Helm’s backbeat and guests Greezy Wheels (great name) and Billy Bob and the Box Masters.
“Anna Lee,” 2011
Even after cancer turned his smooth voice raspy, Helm more than made up for it in the emotional punch with which he delivered his notes. This rendition of “Anna Lee” at the storied Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, complete with violins, is one example.
And ah, what the hell, let’s throw in one from The Last Waltz: