Gibson Tribute Levon Helm With Classic Interview

04/23/2012
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(Gibson) Few artists more fully embodied the spirit of rural America than Levon Helm did. From his work in The Band to his staging of Midnight Ramble concerts at his barn-like studio in Woodstock, New York, Helm was an authentic spirit who captured something deep in the heart of small-town life. Helm, who died Thursday, April 19, at age 71, was also one of the most beloved figures in contemporary music. Speaking to USA Today in the wake of Helm's passing, Warren Haynes, who played with Helm many times, said his friend's voice "personified Americana," adding that it was "one of the great voices, and not just in rock 'n' roll."

In 2000, not long after Capitol Records reissued The Band's entire catalog, Helm's agreed to be interviewed about the making of the group's second album, titled, simply, The Band. A masterpiece that weaved folk, gospel, country and R&B into a seamless tapestry, the album also was an epic portrait-in-song about frontier America. In the interview, Helm talked about The Band's musical dynamic and their work with Bob Dylan, and shared his feelings about the group's legacy. As a tribute to the memory of a great artist, we present that interview here in its entirety, for the very first time.

You recorded The Band in Los Angeles at Sammy Davis Jr.'s house. That must have been a strange experience. We liked how we had worked at the Big Pink [a house shared by Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson in West Saugerties, New York]. The Basement Tapes, Music from Big Pink and probably the better part of a couple of other albums for Bob [Dylan] all came out of those Basement Tapes sessions. That was such a fun, kind of "workshop" situation that we always looked to do that again, as opposed to going into a cold studio, where the clock is ticking away. It's better to create your own space.

We went out to California and rented Sammy Davis Jr.'s house, which had a pool house, and we turned the pool house into a studio. It wasn't hard to do that. We boxed in some of the windows, and taped down the metal fireplace so it wouldn't rattle, and brought in some tape machines and other gear. We didn't perform for a long time. We cut Music from Big Pink, and then we went right ahead and started cutting The Band, and just about the same thing with the third album. We played shows a bit between the second and third album, but not much. Read the full interview here.

Gibson.com is an official news provider for the antiMusic.com.
Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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