Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ronnie Hawkins and others remember Levon Helm

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 5:43 PM

levon_promo.JPG

Musical legend, actor, author, multiple Grammy-winner and Phillips County native Levon Helm passed away today. The Times caught up with some of his friends and bandmates, including Earl Cate of the Cate Brothers, and rockabilly legends Ronnie Hawkins and Sonny Burgess and Bobby Crafford of Sonny Burgess & The Legendary Pacers. All of these folks had known Levon for decades and kindly offered their memories of someone they described as a one-of-a-kind musician and a man who never forgot his friends and never forgot where he came from.

Ronnie Hawkins —

Ronnie Hawkins
  • Ronnie Hawkins
On Levon's musical legacy: "Baby, he meant a lot to the music business. He was gifted young boy, I’ll tell you that. He was the pride of Marvell, Ark."

When he and Levon met: "Oh man, we laughed all night long. He wasn’t but about just turning 17. I went down to Memphis to take this job I was offered and by the time I got there, the band had broken up over who was going to be the leader or something. The guitar player who’d called me, Jimmy Ray Paulmon, he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen then or since then, at rockabilly.

"So when the band broke up, he said, 'Well, we can go back to Helena' — where he lived. He had a cousin that played piano and had been playing for two or three years and he knew some of the other musicians to get and he had played with Levon Helm at a few places where Levon had sat in. They thought it was great, and he didn’t even own a set of drums at that time. That’s how we started, and we just laughed our way right on through to the promised land, to Canada. And it was great. They became the best."

More on Levon's legacy: I think he’s going to have a big one all the way forever, because all those great musicians, for some reason, they really liked Levon and a lot of them really liked Ricky Danko. And they hung around them, which means they liked them. The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, everybody liked Levon. He had a following because he was Levon. He’s special."

Earl Cate —

Earl Cate
  • Earl Cate
On Levon's musical chops: "He was a one-of-a-kind person and just an unbelievable musician. His feel at the drums was something. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The closest thing I’ve experienced is his nephew Terry [Cagle] who plays with us."

How Levon helped The Cate Brothers get started: "He’s responsible for us going as far as we did, because he’s the one who sent a demo tape, gave it to Elliot Roberts in California who took it over to Elektra/Asylum Records and they ended up signing us, so it’s really Levon’s doing. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have went where we did with the Cate brothers.

Staying in touch over the years: "Through the years, since his parents lived in Springdale, when he was home he always came to see us and sat it and played with us or whatever. I actually met Levon in, I think it was '62 when he was playing with Ronnie Hawkins. But through the years we played a lot of music together."

Levon's favorite breakfast: "He hated to fly, one of the only places he’d fly was Japan. He loved sushi. I can still see it now. I go to his room when it’s time to check out and he’s sitting in bed with this Japanese robe on and he’s having sushi for breakfast. He loved it over there and they loved him. He had a great personality, obviously. He never met a stranger."

The Midnight Rambles: "He always wanted to have the ramble at the barn. He talked about it back in the '80s, when we were playing with him and he said, “We need to start a ramble here on Saturday night.” It never did happen back then, but it finally did. He got his wish."

Sonny Burgess and Bobby Crafford —

Sonny Burgess
  • Sonny Burgess

Bobby Crafford
  • Bobby Crafford
Burgess, on Levon's stage presence: "At that time, the Silver Moon [in Newport] had a two-tier bandstand for orchestras and stuff like that. I looked up there and there’s Hawkins in the middle of the stage and on his right was Levon on the drums. Most drummers usually sat in the background, but Levon done moved out in front."

Crafford, on meeting Levon: "I guess it might have been in Canada. He was playing with Ronnie and we were up there on tour too. We took a Sunday and we went to see them."

Crafford, on meeting Levon's Canadian girlfriends: "We played up there and each week, you had to go the IRS office up there and actually pay your taxes before they’d let the clubs release your checks. I don’t know if it’s that way now or not, it was then. We were playing and I went to the IRS on Friday to pay it, and they’d release your check on Saturday, and I was talking to the girl and she noticed my address said Arkansas and she says, 'Do you know Levon?' And I said, 'I sure do.' And she said, 'I used to be Levon’s girlfriend.' Well I don’t know how many girls I heard tell that."

Crafford, on getting the invite to a Midnight Ramble: "He called me one time and said, 'Ya’ll just get your sleeping bags and come sleep here in my studio, just come on up here.' I said, 'Man we’re too old for that, we can't do that.' But that’s the kind of person he was. He was always happy every time I saw him. He was the life of the party. And I know he went through it bad with this cancer."

Burgess, on Levon's wit: "Levon was a sharp cookie. He had to be, look at the good living and the fun he had for many, many years. He was 16 I think when Hawkins said he got him off that tractor up in Marvell."

Tags: , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Robert Bell

  • A Q&A with Pallbearer

    Little Rock’s leading harbingers of doom return with a new album, “Foundations of Burden.”
    • Aug 21, 2014
  • Thursday To-Do: KEN mode

    You've got to figure that a band from frozen-ass Winnipeg is just gonna be way gnarlier and tougher than a band from some sun-kissed tropical clime where people wear tank tops and flip-flops year-round.
    • Feb 6, 2014
  • Bob Schneider at Juanita's

    Also, KEN Mode at Vinos', Red Octopus' 'Trysts and Turns' at the Public Theatre, Mothwind at Maxine's, Patty Griffin at George's Majestic, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at the Weekend Theater and Ash at Juanita's.
    • Feb 6, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Staff Picks: Netflix and Chill, Benji's pasta fresca, Creedence Clearwater Revival and more

    The podcast Design Matters, published by Design Observer, is celebrating its 10th year and they are revisiting some of their best episodes from the last decade. I just finished this week's replay of the interview with the Scottish born illustrator Marion Deuchars. At the end of the wonderful interview, her two young sons are invited into the studio near where they pitch in some of their own thoughts on art and, in particular, drawing in the art books their mother created for children and adults.
    • Aug 28, 2015
  • Guest Mix: Rural War Room

    World wide weird duo Rural War Room (Donavan Suitt & Byron Werner) is celebrating 10 years of broadcasting and production here in Little Rock and abroad. RWR Radio on KABF 88.3 FM (10 p.m. Tuesdays or anytime on their website), features the duo alternating records in an effort to surprise one another.
    • Sep 14, 2015
  • Your new flags of Little Rock

    BRASHER: Hello Arkansans, this is the first piece from us, Brasher and Rowe and we are some dudes who work in downtown Little Rock and we eat lunch and just talk about all the exciting things around here.
    • Sep 18, 2015

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation