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. - Bob Dylan
Levon Helm, best known as the drummer for acclaimed roots-rock outfit The Band, passed away yesterday at 71 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Both Helm's kindness and talent touched many people; below you can watch Bon Iver's touching performance of "Ophelia," followed by some of the kind words being shared.
Bon Iver performs "Ophelia" at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco:
Jeff Tweedy (Wilco): "Levon was the glue, not just in The Band, but in all of what people think of when they think of North American music. He was a great unifier; a great glue. He unified blues and country, rural and city, and even North and South. Luckily he showed us all the way to keep it together and let it swing."
Glenn Kotche (Wilco): "Levon Helm was simply one of the greatest drummers ever. But he was also one of the most influential musicians and important artists of our time. Levon had a depth of feel that does not exist anymore. His brilliantly economic parts, lyrical phrasing and incredible touch and tone on the drums were as unique as his song writing and timeless voice. His impact on me cannot be overstated. Getting the privilege to double drum with him last year at our Solid Sound festival was one of the greatest thrills I could ever imagine. He was a passionate man with an extremely gracious, warm and giving personality. That he made some of his best music in the final years of his life, is a testament to his greatness and historical significance. He will be dearly missed."
Bill Clinton: “I was saddened to learn of the death of my fellow Arkansan Levon Helm. Levon was one of America’s great musicians. His music, with the Hawks, the Band, and throughout his career, and his standout performance in Coal Miner’s Daughter, touched a cord with me and with many Americans. He never forgot his roots. I was always grateful that he helped the annual Delta Blues Festival get off the ground. He will be deeply missed.”
Amy Millan: "I was 8, Levon Helm came to my best friends dads party. I didn't know who he was, but it was clear, he was the coolest person in the room."
Elton John, who honored Helm with his song 1971 song "Levon":
“When I heard The Band’s Music from Big Pink, their music changed my life. And Levon was a big part of that band. Nigel Olson, my drummer, will tell you that every drummer that heard him was influenced by him. He was the greatest drummer and a wonderful singer and just a part of my life that was magical. They once flew down to see me in Philadelphia and I couldn’t believe it. They were one of the greatest bands of all time. They really changed the face of music when their records came out. I had no idea he was sick so I’m very dismayed and shocked that he died so quickly. But now my son [Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John] has his name.”
Below: Levon Helm's Sound Tracks: Quick Hits interview from 2012: