Planet Waves FM :: Levon Helm, Singer for The Band, Returns to the Earth

One of the most memorable voices in rock music is gone — Levon Helm, the Arkansas-born drummer and mandolin player for The Band. He died of throat cancer, which he’d been battling since the late 1990s.

Levon Helm performing in 2004 on the Village Green in Woodstock, New York. Photo by Jaime Martorano.

Levon Helm performing in 2004 on the Village Green in Woodstock, New York. Photo by Jaime Martorano.

Helm was the lead vocalist on some of The Band’s most memorable songs: “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up On Cripple Creek.” Helm was the one American in an otherwise Canadian emsemble.

His wife and daughter said in a statement Tuesday that Helm was “in the final stages of his battle with cancer,” and requested the prayers of his fans. He died early Thursday afternoon in New York City, after a hospital stay in Kingston, NY. He died about two hours after the Sun entered Taurus.

Helm was a Gemini, with a lot of Taurus to back it up. That takes the clear, flexible quality of Gemini and puts substance behind it. He had a chart similar to his former bandmate Bob Dylan.

I’ve noticed something about Gemini musicians — they are gifted musical shapeshifters, whether that means playing many instruments, being able to blend into any style they want, or being gifted session players. Helm was all of the above, and he played drums, percussion, mandolin, banjo and harmonica — in addition to being what one writer described as the Voice of America.

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Eric Francis

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8 Responses to Planet Waves FM :: Levon Helm, Singer for The Band, Returns to the Earth

  1. Jane says:

    Gotta love that Venus in Cancer for the tender heart,the homespun tunes and the overall sweetness of the man–

  2. Lizzy Huffy says:

    Just came across this wonderful interview with the Band, first published in Rolling Stone magazine in August 1968.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/apr/24/levon-helm-interview-band

  3. Len Wallick Len Wallick says:

    Eric: Thank you for a fitting tribute. As you eloquently point out (and as Roseanne Cash implied), this fellow was the real deal. Notice the Nessus square Pluto and Pholus at the North Bending opposing Chiron at the south bending he lived The Weight. Levon had tasted the fruit of pain and his authentic art was our harvest. For that we are grateful.

  4. Patty says:

    Bob Dylan, John Foggerty (Creedence Clearwater), Johnny Depp, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) – all very unique artists. Johnny Depp not so much a musician, but that’s how he started and he certainly fits in. They are all wonderful and amazing and the weirdest people in the room (in a good and amazing way).

  5. Chief Niwots Son Chief Niwots Son says:

    “I gotta go, but my friends can stick around…”

    RIP Levon, godspeed.

  6. Rob44 says:

    Levon truly was the voice of America; a time-traveling channeler of it’s history, mythos, pain and celebration. For a span of literally years one of his songs rang in my mind on a daily basis, like a disembodied angel of history inscribing a timeless teaching on the pages of my heart. “I swear by the mud below my feet.” There has never been a troubador like him, and there never will be. Fare thee well, Levon.

  7. Eric Francis Eric Francis says:

    Add to that Rosanne Cash and Tony Levin (who could blend in with a Ukranian polka band and who plays the ultimate Gemini instrument — the Stick). Planning an article on this for Gemini time — would love to hear other names.

    Jerry Garcia — Saturn in Gemini.

  8. Carrie says:

    “I’ve noticed something about Gemini musicians — they are gifted musical shapeshifters, whether that means playing many instruments, being able to blend into any style they want, or being gifted session players.”

    Yep; two others come to mind: Paul McCartney and Prince. Both Geminis and both extraordinarily talented musicians. RIP Levon. Thanks for writing about him.

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