Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dick Clark and Levon Helm RIP

Sadly The Vinyl Word must report two significant deaths in the world of music - Dick Clark and Levon Helm.
I don't know why but for some reason I thought that Dick Clark had passed away long ago. But the highly influential host of American Bandstand and, later, Where The Action Is, lived on and it's only now that he has died aged 82. So it's a fond farewell to the man whose support helped make the careers of dozens of US rock and roll and soul acts - from Buddy Holly to Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker and Stevie Wonder. He made Philadelphia a major centre for rock and roll and if you appeared on American Bandstand you had arrived. Dick was undoubtedly a major force in US music in the 50s and 60s. He avoided the Payola scandal through some nifty footwork and continued to have a successful career as a game show host and presenter of a regular New Year's Eve show in the States. His Caravan of Stars shows brought some of the major acts of the era to the US in an integrated show from 1959 to 1965 , with greats such as Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and many others taking part.
Born in Elaine, Arkansas, Levon Helm, who was 71, grew up watching Elvis and other Sun stars and joined Ronnie Hawkins' Hawks in 1957 as drummer, enjoying major hits with Forty Days and Mary Lou, also appearing on American Bandstand. The Hawks broke with Ronnie and became Bob Dylan's backing band, eventually setting up in Woodstock and becoming The Band, who had massive success with hits such as The Weight and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The Band broke up in 1976 with a host of global stars joining them for their farewell The Last Waltz including Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. Levon went on to record several successful solo albums and turned his hand to acting in The Coal Miner's Daughter and The Right Stuff.


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