Besides functional gear, sensible footwear and a guaranteed ride to gigs, members of good backing bands must have the following qualities: Humility, talent and personality. The best backing bands, of course, have all these qualities — and lots of success. Some of them of have played on countless hits. Some have played a role in music history. Others just have so much talent that they automatically move to the next level.
During the final week of 1971, The Band played four legendary concerts at New York City’s Academy of Music, ushering in the new year with some seriously great performances, including new horn arrangements by Allen Toussaint and a surprise guest appearance by Bob Dylan.
Levon Helm, the Arkansas-born multi-instrumentalist and vocalist whose unforgettable voice graced some of The Band's biggest hits, died yesterday in Woodstock, New York, after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
Guitarist Robbie Robertson, a former member of The Band, visited an ailing Levon Helm in the hospital over the weekend. Helm, best known as the drummer in The Band -- and singer of several of the band's hits -- is in the final stages of his 14-year struggle cancer, as posted by his wife and daughter last Friday.
For me, the ailing Levon Helm's greatest moment with The Band is their cover of Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" from 1971's Cahoots. While it was already common for other artists to perform Dylan's own songs better than he did, Helm's performance on "Masterpiece" is truly one of a kind.