Remembering Levon Helm: The Band Appears On ‘The Road’ Television Series

By Nate Todd Apr 19, 2020 9:38 am PDT

Every single member of The Band’s classic lineup — drummer and multi-instrumentalist Levon Helm, bassist Rick Danko, pianist Richard Manuel, multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson and guitarist Robbie Robertson — provided an integral piece to the overall genius of the legendary rock group. But if The Band had a beating heart, it was the late great Levon Helm.

Not only did he actually provide the literal beat as The Band’s drummer, even behind the kit Helm came about as close to a frontman as the group would have. While the classic lineup of The Band broke up in grand fashion with The Last Waltz in 1976, they would get back together with sundry personnel — although sans primary songwriter Robbie Robertson — in 1983.

The reminted group would mourn the tragic death of pianist Richard Manuel in 1986 but soldiered on with a core three of Helm, Danko and Hudson. But in the early 1990s, The Band added drummer Randy Ciarlante, guitarist Jim Weider and keyboardist Richard Bell. This lineup, along with a large horn section, appeared on the television show The Road in 1995.

While the performance features Hudsons’s mysterious wizardry as well as Danko’s driving bass and high harmony vocals, it is Levon who is at the center of the performances. Whether it be his lead vocals on “Remedy” or his mandolin on Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” or he and Danko’s rhythm section magic on The Band classic “Life Is A Carnival,” Helm lives up to his name.

Today marks eight years since Levon Helm died of cancer in 2012. To remember Levon, watch The Band chat and perform on The Road below for this edition of Sunday Cinema:

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