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Posts Tagged ‘Levon Helm’

Died On This Date (April 19, 2012) Levon Helm / Drummer & Co-Lead Singer For The Band

Posted by themusicsover on April 19, 2012

Mark “Levon” Helm
May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012

Levon Helm was a rock musician, singer and songwriter best known for his time spent in the Band, one of Canada’s most celebrated rock bands.   Helm was still a few years shy of his teens when he first took up the guitar.  The drums were soon to follow.  After graduating from high school, he was invited by Ronnie Hawkins to join his back up band, the Hawks.  Hawkins later recruited Canadian musicians, Rick Danko, Robbie RobertsonGarth Hudson and Richard Manuel.  After splitting away from Hawkins in 1963, the group forged on as Levon & The Hawks – touring throughout Canada and the northern U.S. until they got a call from Bob Dylan asking them to support him on the road.   Changing their name to simply the Band by the late ’60s, they secured a deal with Capitol Records and delivered their debut, Music From Big Pink, one of rock music’s true masterpieces.  That was followed by albums like The Band, Stage Fright, and Cahoots which only added more songs to one of rock’s finest catalogs. Helm sang lead on many of the group’s best songs.  On Thanksgiving night of 1976, the Band performed what would be their final show as that unit at San Francisco’s Winterland.  To the surprise of the audience, the Band proved to be the greatest backing band of all times as a cavalcade of the era’s most respected performers showed their own respect by joining them on stage throughout the evening.  That list included Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, and Dylan, each arguably giving the single greatest live performance of their careers.  Fortunately, the evening was captured on film by Martin Scorsese, who released it theatrically as The Last Waltz, often noted popular music’s greatest concert film.  Following the band’s break up, Helm continued on as a solo act and participated in later reincarnations of the Band.  In later years, Helm hosted numerous concerts at his home and studio in Woodstock, NY.  These Midnight Rambles, as they became to be known, played host to a veritable who’s who of roots music.  He later took the show on the road, even releasing one such evening, Ramble at the Ryman, on CD in 2011.  During the late ’90s, Helm learned he had throat cancer.  He eventually recovered enough to hit the Ramble stage and record arguably his two best solo albums of his career, 2007’s Dirt Farmer, and 2009’s Electric Dirt.  They earned him Grammys for Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Americana Album, respectively.  Ramble at the Ryman was named Best Americana Album as well.  During the second week of April, 2012, Helm’s family released a statement that he was in the final days of a battle with cancer.  On April 19, 2012, Levon Helm passed away at the age of 71.

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Dirt Farmer - Levon Helm

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Died On This Date (January 17, 2012) Johnny Otis / R&B Great; Had Hit With “Willie and the Hand Jive”

Posted by themusicsover on January 17, 2012

Johnny Otis (Born Ioannis Veliotis)
December 28, 1921 – January 17, 2012

Referred to as the “Godfather Of Rhythm and Blues,” Johnny Otis was a man of many aspirations and musical talents.  Born and raised in the San Francisco area, Otis went on to become a successful bandleader, producer, songwriter, journalist, talent scout, arranger, disc jockey, vibraphonist, drummer, club owner, merchant, and even politician.  His most popular contribution to popular music came by way of “Willie and the Hand Jive,” which sold over 1.5 million copies, rose to #9 on the pop charts, and has since been recorded by the likes of George Thorogood, Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Cliff Richard, and New Riders of the Purple Sage, to name just a few.  A child of Greek immigrants, Otis actually lived and worked as part of the African-American community while employing mostly black musicians for his bands.  He began making an impact on music during the late ’40s when he opened a nightclub in the Watts section of Los Angeles.  It was there that he made his first discovery, Little Esther Phillips, who went on to have several pop and R&B hits of her own. Other future greats he is credited for discovering and working with during their early years include Big Jay McNeely, Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard, Etta James and  Big Mama Thornton, whose signature song, “Hound Dog,” was produced by Otis.  In 1958,  Otis recorded the self-penned “Willie and the Hand Jive” which quickly became a smash with both black and white audiences and went on to become one of the most iconic songs of the era.  A tireless performer, Otis and his band toured the world well into the 2000s.  During the ’60s, he made an unsuccessful run for the California State Assembly.  Many blamed the loss on the fact that he ran under his virtually unknown birth name.  In 1994, Otis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in later years, he hosted “The Johnny Otis Show” on San Francisco radio station, KPFA.  Due to declining health, he did his last show in August of 2006.   His son, Shuggie Otis, had hits of his own during the ’70s. Johnny Otis was 90 when he passed away in his home on January 17, 2012

Thanks to Paul Bearer for the assist.

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Johnny Otis

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Died On This Date (March 4, 1986) Richard Manuel / The Band

Posted by themusicsover on March 4, 2010

Richard Manuel
April 3, 1943 – March 4, 1986

With Bob Dylan

With Bob Dylan

Richard Manuel was a Canadian multi-instrumentalist and singer who is best remembered as a long-time member of perhaps the greatest “back up” band in history, the Band.  Manuel first started working with his former Band mates when, at just 17, he joined rockabilly great, Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band, the Hawks.  About two years later, that unit morphed into the Band, which would count Manuel, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson as its most celebrated members.  Manual mostly played piano in the group.  When Bob Dylan decided to go electric during the mid ’60s, it was the Band he called to serve as his backing band.  And when he went on hiatus after being injured in a motorcycle accident in 1967, the Band holed up in a big pink house in Woodstock, New York to record what would become their acclaimed debut album, Music From Big Pink.  Manuel wrote its “Tears of Rage” (with Dylan), “In A Station,” “We Can Talk,” and “Lonesome Suzy.”  The band continued to release respected albums and collaborate with other performers, all culminating in a remarkable “farewell concert” on Thanksgiving Day, 1976.  In front of an unsuspecting audience, the Band gave the show like no other, sharing the stage with such invited guests and admirers as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Dylan, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison and more.  Each artists’ performance was arguably the single greatest of their careers.  The evening was captured on film by Martin Scorsese and released as The Last Waltz, considered one of rock music’s greatest concert films.  Sadly however, Manual was a chronic substance abuser along the way.  His inner demons finally got the best of him when, on March 4, 1986, he hung himself in his hotel room after a show.  Richard Manual was 42 when he died.

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The Last Waltz - The Band

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Died On This Date (December 10, 1999) Rick Danko / The Band

Posted by themusicsover on December 10, 2009

Rick Danko
December 29, 1942 – December 10, 1999

rick-danko

Rick Danko was a rock musician, singer and songwriter best known for his time spent in The Band, arguably Canada’s most celebrated band.   Around 1960, Danko found himself opening a show for Ronnie Hawkins, whose back up band, the Hawks included Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm.  Hawkins was impressed enough after hearing Danko to invite him to join his band on rhythm guitar, later switching to bass.  The Hawks eventually added Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson and split from Hawkins in 1963.  They continued on touring throughout Canada and the northern U.S. until they got a call from Bob Dylan asking them to support him on the road.   Going simply as the Band by the late ’60s, they secured a deal with Capitol Records and delivered their debut, Music From Big Pink, one of rock music’s true masterpieces.  That was followed by albums like The Band, Stage Fright, and Cahoots which only added more songs to one of rock’s finest catalogs.  Danko sang lead on many of the groups best songs.  On Thanksgiving night of 1976, the Band performed what would be their final show as that unit at San Francisco’s Winterland.  To the surprise of the audience, the Band proved to be the greatest backing band of all times as a cavalcade of the era’s most respected performers showed their own respect by joining them on stage throughout the evening.  That list included Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, and Dylan, each arguably giving the single greatest live performance of their careers.  Fortunately, the evening was captured on film by Martin Scorsese, who released it theatrically as The Last Waltz, often noted as one of popular music’s greatest concert films.  Following the break up of the Band, Danko recorded a handful of albums that sold moderately at best.  In later years he participated in re-formed, but not complete, versions of the Band.  By the late ’90s, he was suffering from drug and alcohol addictions possibly attributed to injuries sustained in a car accident, as well as weight issues that put him in the obese range.  On December 10, 1999, Rick Danko, age 56, died in his sleep.

What You Should Own

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The Last Waltz - The Band

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Died On This Date (September 27, 2003) Paul Burlison / Rockabilly Pioneer

Posted by themusicsover on September 27, 2009

Paul Burlison
February 4, 1929 – September 27, 2003

burlisonPaul Burlison was a founding member of The Rock and Roll Trio, a rockabilly band who would heavily influence rock ‘n roll bands for generations to come.  He formed the band with brothers, Dorsey Burnette and Johnny Burnette in the early ’50s, and by 1956, they were in New York City recording for the Coral label.  And although their records were never quite hits, they became popular and thus influential due to many television appearances during their short run.  They appeared on American Bandstand, Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour, The Tonight Show and Kraft Music Hall, but despite the remarkable promotional blitz, it never resulted in many record sales.  The band called it quits in 1957 and Burlison all but retired from the music business, only to make a comeback during the rockabilly revival of the ’80s.  It wasn’t until 1997 that Burlison made his first solo album, Train Kept A-Rollin’.  Guests on the album included Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Cesar Rojas, David Hidalgo, Mavis Staples, and the second generation of Burnettes, Rocky Burnette and Billy Burnette.  Paul Burlison died of cancer at the age of 74.



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