In the wake of the sad passing of rock n' roll legend Levon Helm, Martin Scorsese, who directed The Band member in the classic concert film The Last Waltz, paid tribute to the musician who passed away at the age of 71 on Wednesday after a long battle with lung cancer. (Helm discussed the film in his 1993 autobiography This Wheel's on Fire – Levon Helm and the Story of The Band.) The Oscar-winning director said in a statement regarding Helm:
"The late Jim Carroll once said that Levon Helm was the only drummer who could make you cry, and he was absolutely right. Levon's touch was so delicate, so deft, that he gave you more than just a beat - he gave the music a pulse. And his high, ringing voice was just as soulful. His bandmate Robbie Robertson wrote "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" for Levon to sing, and I'll never forget how moving it was to watch him sing it during their final performance at Winterland, which is one of the high points of the movie we made from that show, The Last Waltz. Levon was a gentleman, a consummate artist (and, I might add, a wonderful actor - his performance as Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter is rich, understated, and very moving), and he loved music as deeply and truly as anyone I've ever met. I consider myself fortunate to have worked with Levon, and I am one among many, many people who will miss him."
Scorcese's The Last Waltz, required viewing for any fans of The Band (or any fans of music, for that matter), chronicled the group's final live performance in 1976 at San Francisco's Winterland. The rock pic features performances of The Band's hits "Up On Cripple Creek" and the aforementioned "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and appearances from Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, and Emmylou Harris, among many others. (And remember, this film should be played loud.)
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