Levon Helm to be laid to rest
Friday’s funeral for Levon Helm, the former drummer for The Band who died of cancer last week, will be a somber but celebratory affair. So says Stephen Davis, the Milton-based biographer who co-wrote Helm’s 2000 memoir “This Wheel’s on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band.” Friends and fans have been invited to a memorial at Helm’s home in New York’s Hudson Valley, the place in Woodstock where he staged his “Midnight Ramble” barn concerts. “There will be a New Orleans-style, brass band procession down Tinker Street,” said Davis, whose schedule will prevent him from making the trip. “He’ll be laid next to (Band bassist) Rick Danko in the town cemetery.” In writing the book -- a dishy account that includes plenty of sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, and rants about Robbie Robertson -- Davis spent close to two years with Helm. “He took me to Arkansas and we went around Turkey Scratch, which is where he was from,” says Davis. “We did it because he needed the money. I’d given him a copy of ‘Hammer of the Gods’ and said, ‘If you like this, maybe we can work together.’” When the book was finished, Helm balked, thinking it was a bit too raunchy. Because there’s a lot about Bob Dylan in the book, the publisher sent Dylan the galleys to read. “He loved it and blurbed it,” says Davis. Since Helm’s death, there’s renewed interest in “The Wheel’s on Fire”; the book this week cracked Amazon’s Top 100.
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