Levon Helm was laid to rest in Woodstock, New York on April 27th, eight days after his death. The drummer and vocalist, best known for his work with the Band, was buried a short ride from his barn-style home, where he hosted his weekly Midnight Rambles.
In the center of town, the streets were lined with hundreds of people for Helm’s funeral procession, which included about 100 vehicles from his home to a private service held at Woodstock Cemetery. Helm was laid to rest next to the Band’s bassist and singer Rick Danko, who died in 1999. The funeral concluded with a Dixieland jazz processional performed by the Jaguar Memorial Band from Jackson High School in New Jersey. Along with the band, Larry Campbell, the guitarist in Helm’s most recent group, guitarist Jimmy Vivino and drummer Steve Jordan played a tune leading out from the gravesite.
In the early years, the Band backed Bob Dylan on his 1965-1966 tours and collaborated with him on the legendary Basement Tapes. Dylan called Helm “one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation.”
Other musicians’ eulogies have appeared online: Lucinda Williams wrote about performing with Helm a year ago: “Well aware of my Louisiana heritage, he enthusiastically let it be known that he and his band had worked up a version of ‘Crescent City’ and asked if I would sing that song with them and also sit in on ‘Evangeline.’ I’ll never forget Levon’s ear-to-ear grin as we played those songs. The short time I spent with him over those two nights left a deep and lasting impression on me . . . I will always remember him with a twinkle in his eyes, a smile as warm and friendly as his native Arkansas land and an endearing and infectious spirit that will live on forever.”
And Loretta Lynn wrote, “Levon Helm will always hold a special place in my heart. He was as great of an actor as a musician. For me, watching him play the role of my daddy in Coal Miner’s Daughter is a memory I will always treasure.”
Helm was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 as a member of the Band. In 1998, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, but he continued to play music, and after his recovery, to sing as well, up until his death.