Levon Helm . His name is not exactly a household word. Even in the glory days of the late 60's and early 70's his group "The Band" only had two hits. The best known song around here is, of course, "Up on Cripple Creek".  How surprised was everyone around here when they heard the line :
"To Lake Charles Louisiana
Little Bessie, girl that I once knew
She told me just to come on by
If there's anything that she could do"

Right away you wonder if they actually knew someone from Lake Charles or did the three syllable name just fit the song? By the way, Robbie Robertson of  The Band actually wrote the song. Levon sang lead with that twangy, plaintive voice. There has been much speculation that Helm had a hand in writing that number since Levon Helm worked the oil rigs off the coast of Louisiana when he was replace by Mickey Jones on drums back when the Band were the Hawks and backing Bob Dylan. It doesn't matter! Back in 1969 when "Up on Cripple Creek" came out it was oddly exciting to hear someone even mention Lake Charles.

The Band was never a rock band. They , sort of like the Grateful Dead, didn't really fit into any of "Record Label World's" categories. They were kind of a folk-country-jug band-bluegrass-blues band. That lack of a definitive classification has spelled a lack of hits for many bands over the years. The Band, again like the Dead, had no shortage of fans.  Helms drumming and voice were front and center in their popularity.

Sadly, Levon Helm is in the final stages of his fight with cancer. On April 17, his wife and daughter released an open letter to Levon's fans:

"Dear Friends,
Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.
Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage...
We appreciate all the love and support and concern.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy"
Helm's list of credits is amazing to say the least.  Wikipedia has an excellent, up to date article about the man. Here is a link to that article:
Levon on Wikipedia
We'll keep you posted on his condition so check back for updates. In the meantime, all our prayers go out to Levon Helm and his family.
This is the link to Levon Helm's Facebook page. LHFB
From "The Last Waltz"- Here's Levon Helm performing "Up on Cripple Creek"