Donald MacInnes: Drummer who really got into the groove

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The Independent Online

At the end of a week as relentlessly rain-soaked and altogether dreich as this (see, things for music fans in general – and drummers in particular – didn't improve on Thursday, with the sad news of the passing of Levon Helm, drummer and occasional lead singer with The Band.

Having fulfilled these two roles myself, albeit with a slightly less well-known outfit, the departure of old Levon is particularly hard for this reporter to bear. While he wasn't, by any stretch of the imagination, a drum virtuoso (more of a multi-instrumentalist), Levon's ability to deliver a heart-felt, rootsy song while keeping time was impressive.

This is especially true, when you consider he and the rest of The Band were probably as wasted as it's possible to get without the need for an air ambulance. Even full-on sober (and I, of course, never performed any other way, obv), singing while playing the drums is not easy and Levon sat (well, slumped) at the very top of the list of similarly twin-skilled dispensers of what we like to call "The Groove".

In truth, it's a pretty short list. There's The Eagles' Don Henley. Lovely voice, but with The Eagles, it was all about the twang, not the bang. Then you've got Karen Carpenter. Possibly the most beautiful singing voice ever recorded, yes, but behind a kit? Meh.

If we gloss over my particular contribution to the cause, then we, inevitably, have to alight on Phil Collins. And, quite frankly, I've had too upsetting a week to talk about him. Rest in peace, Levon. Take a load off.