I met Levon Helm many years ago, when The Band was still virtually unknown. And, of course, I knew all the members of The Band because, well, Woodstock is a small town. In the early 80s, when I was playing with Kentucky Kate, I did a couple of opening act things for The Band. I was closer to Rick Danko, who I played with in a variety of settings, than to Levon.
The Band and Levon occupy the stratosphere of the American popular music scene. Hard for the kids to know or remember, but The Band was once as big as the Stones. When Scorcese filmed "The Last Waltz" he was hitching his wagon to The Band, not vice versa.
That Nashville sound that is now so popular, with the cowboys playing rock and rock and the blues, owes a lot to The Band.
Levon lead a charmed and wonderful life... the sort of life that every musician dreams of leading. The Band were stars when they were still very young. Levon never knew anything except the adoration of a cheering audience and critical acclaim... well deserved.
Attrition is taking away the heart of the 60s Woodstock scene. Only John Sebastian is left of the towering figures who established the scene.
Rest in peace, Levon, and say hello to my old pal, Rick.