As Levon Helm, the drummer and singer for the Band, once famously wrote, “If it doesn’t come from your heart music just doesn’t work.” It was just a few days ago that his family publicly announced that he was in the final stages of a long battle with throat cancer; today we’re saddened to learn that the Arkansas-born roots-music patriarch has died at the age of 71.
“Mr. Helm’s drumming valued space over showiness,” reads his New York Times obituary. “He gave his drums a muffled, bottom-heavy sound that placed them in the foundation of the arrangements, and his tom-toms were tuned so that their pitch would bend downward as the tone faded.”
Click through to watch one of our favorite clips of Helm from The Last Waltz — a film which he apparently hated, believing that it glorified the Band’s guitarist, Jaime Robbie Robertson, while slighting the rest of the group. Funny, as he was always the one who we couldn’t take our eyes off of. How about you?