Today Levon Helm, the fantastic drummer/vocalist from the legendary The Band, sadly lost his battle with cancer. Levon will always be an important part of my life because his music played a part in helping me break out of my shell.
Back in the day, the mighty Herb Griffin and I, after many appearances in the audience, became guest stars of the fabulous Frank Jaklitsch when he performed at J.K. McZak’s in Middle Village. And our biggest songs were either Beatles classics, Blues Brothers tunes (complete with dark glasses and sometimes porkpie hats) or songs by The Band. Our favorite one to perform as a trio was The Weight, but Up On Cripple Creek was also a big fave, and always included the famous “Levon face”, mimicking Mr. Helm’s passionate mug as he flawlessly drummed and sang simultaneously. Now before McZak’s I was a poetry-writing, insecure, borderline nerd boy, but alcohol mixed with great music and the new-found ability to perform in front of an audience led me on the road to the career writer, slightly insecure, extremely outgoing, borderline nerd boy that I am today.
Thanks, Levon. May you rest in eternal peace. And may you forever give ’em the ol’ Levon face up there in Heaven.
By the way, my favorite The Band song? When I Paint My Masterpiece, led by Levon’s stunning vocals. Enjoy.