Paying Tribute to Musician, Father and Cancer Survivor Levon Helm

Paying Tribute to Musician, Father and Cancer Survivor Levon Helm

04.19.12 | By Kate Connors

Earlier today I came across the news that the venerable Levon Helm, singer and drummer for The Band and multi-Grammy award winner as a solo artist, is in the very late stages of his battle with cancer. I don't know about all of you, but I can't count how many times I've watched/listened to "The Last Waltz," mesmerized by the artistry and energy that Helm and his Band-mates brought to the stage.

Helm is an amazing talent, even after he lost and then regained his voice in earlier bouts with throat cancer.

When I read about Helm's condition, I immediately thought of my friend and vacationing PhRMA-mate Jeff Trewhitt, who not only is a fine colleague and devout Helm fan, he's a proud cancer survivor. I emailed the link to this LA Times piece to Jeff, and this was his response:

"Dude, I have tears in my eyes and I mean that. He not only has a soulful, down home voice and is a wicked drummer and mandolin picker, he is also one hell of a cool cat and a nice, nice man.

At least I'm in a good place to deal with the sadness I feel. I'm in the woods of north Florida on the banks of the Suwanee River with about 30,000 of my best friends waiting patiently to hear the Allman Brothers Band, North Mississippi Allstars, Buddy Guy, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't. Mule, Furthur - the latest version of the Grateful Dead - and many, many other Southern rock and roll, blues, progressive jazz, New Orleans funk and zydeco bands.

I suspect I'm going to be hearing lots of tributes to Levon over the next four days."

Well, I can't say it any better than that.

It occurred to me to write something if/when Helm passes, but I thought it more fitting to encourage readers of The Catalyst - those of you working for companies devoted to finding new cancer therapies and others in the health sphere - to put "Ophelia" on your iPod (or play the album track, if you really have soul), and celebrate the intertwined beauty of gravelly vocals and life.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateAtPhRMA.

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