Bob Dylan has paid tribute to Levon Helm, the former drummer with The Band, who passed away on Thursday April 19, aged 71.
Dylan collaborated with The Band over the course of their career, first on Dylan’s 1965 American tour. They worked together on the 1967 sessions that were eventually released as The Basement Tapes, and also a joint 1974 tour.
Writing on bobdylan.com, Dylan said:
“He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation.
This is just so sad to talk about.
I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together. I’m going to miss him, as I’m sure a whole lot of others will too.”
Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese, who filmed The Band’s final live performance in 1976 at San Francisco’s Winterland, issued this statement:
“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.”