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Levon: From Down in the Delta to the Birth of The Band and Beyond

Levon: From Down in the Delta to the Birth of The Band and Beyond

by Sandra B. Tooze

NOOK Book(eBook)

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The first major biography of Levon Helm, the legendary drummer and singer of the Band.

Through rigorous research and interviews with close friends and fellow musicians, author Sandra B. Tooze (Muddy Waters: The Mojo Man) has written an original, insightful investigation of the relentless perseverance that propelled Levon Helm from Southern cotton fields to the global limelight, and that kept him in the game despite career collapse, near bankruptcy, and what he saw as devastating betrayal by his closest friend, Band guitarist Robbie Robertson.

Levon Helm claimed that his drum stool was the best seat in the house. From that vantage point back in his childhood home of Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, he saw the convergence of musical styles—blues, country, and R&B—that would coalesce into rockabilly and then rock. Later, he became integral to the evolution of popular music, joining the raucous rockabilly group Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, then merging hard-driving rock with Bob Dylan’s folk roots, and revolutionizing American rock with the Band. He not only provided the perfect “in the pocket” rhythm and unforgettable high-lonesome voice for many of the Band’s greatest songs, but he was also the Band’s soul.

While performing as one of the premier drummers of modern music, Helm sang the anthems of a generation: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” “Rag Mama Rag, “Life Is a Carnival,” and “The Weight.” As a member of the Band, Levon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He also acted in eighteen movies, including Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Right Stuff.

Cancer robbed Helm of his voice in 1997, yet he endured. Eventually, through dogged determination, he regained his ability to sing. His final decade was a triumph of spirit and talent, as he opened his barn to the Midnight Rambles and earned three Grammy wins. Cancer finally took him in 2012 when he was at the top of his game.

Universally loved and admired, he was described by Bob Dylan as “my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation.”

Levon is the complex, transcendent, and uplifting story of a singing drummer from Turkey Scratch who became a legend of American music.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635767025
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book

About the Author

Sandra B. Tooze garnered world-wide acclaim for her book Muddy Waters: Mojo Man. Eric Clapton wrote the foreword, and Levon Helm and Mick Jagger both endorsed it with back-cover quotes. The reviewer for America’s preeminent blues magazine, Living Blues, called it a “first rate biography. . . . An illumination and a joy, it deserves a place on our shelves as a loving and earnest tribute to one of the greats of American music.” On Britain’s BBC radio, her book was described as “terrific. . . . and absolutely great.” And in the UK’s premier music magazine, Mojo, it was praised as “a vivid, brilliantly researched portrait.” She currently resides in British Columbia, Canada.