Levon: From Down in the Delta to the Birth of the Band and Beyond


Product Details

$29.99  $27.89
Diversion Books
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.1 X 1.2 inches | 1.5 pounds

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About the Author

Sandra B. Tooze garnered world-wide acclaim for her book Muddy Waters: Mojo Man. Eric Clapton wrote the foreword, and Levon Helm and Mick Jagger both endorsed it with back-cover quotes. The reviewer for America's preeminent blues magazine, Living Blues, called it a "first rate biography. . . . An illumination and a joy, it deserves a place on our shelves as a loving and earnest tribute to one of the greats of American music." On Britain's BBC radio, her book was described as "terrific. . . . and absolutely great." And in the UK's premier music magazine, Mojo, it was praised as "a vivid, brilliantly researched portrait." She currently resides in British Columbia, Canada.


"Levon Helm put his heart and soul into every beat he played, every song he sang. He brought joy to people all over the world by sharing the unique blend of musical styles he grew up with in the Arkansas Delta. Along the way, he became a good actor, too! I'm glad his story is getting the telling it deserves."
-President Bill Clinton

"I was honored to have performed with Levon Helm, a master musician who tapped into an astonishing array of genres within American music and possessed one of its greatest voices. In this captivating biography, Sandra B. Tooze channels the creativity, drive, and endurance of this iconic artist. Filled with fresh insights and anecdotes, Levon is a fascinating exploration of the man, his music, and his life."
-Vince Gill, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician

"This is a book about one of the great characters I have ever been privileged to know. Levon Helm was a brilliant actor, a wildly gifted musician, a hilarious and charming raconteur and, like me, an Arkansan with a mama named Nell. This book beautifully celebrates his exuberant and remarkable life."
-Mary Steenburgen, Academy Award-winning actress

"Sandra B. Tooze succeeds in reinforcing all the threads that make up the tapestry of the late drummer's creative life, even adding some previously unknown and forgotten periods to the record.... At the same time, his triumphs are rendered with a sensitivity and detail rare in rock biographies. Levon receives the attention here that his profound contribution to American-roots music deserves.... This is an essential read for fans of the Band and beyond."
-Modern Drummer

"Sandra Tooze has not only written the definitive biography of Levon Helm, but she's also written an outstanding life-story of modern American music, encompassing all of the colorful characters that Levon Helm met along the way. Levon embodied the evolution of blues, rockabilly, country and folk that meant so much to so many, defined the soundtrack of my life, and inspired a generation. Levon Helm was a musician's musician. This book is a must-read musical odyssey of a true hero of rock and roll."
―Steve Katz, founding member of Blood, Sweat, and Tears; author of Blood, Sweat, and My Rock 'n' Roll Years

"All true fans of Americana know that the late Levon Helm was a masterful drummer and one of our most distinctive singers. But author Sandra B. Tooze offers a brilliant road map covering how he became one of the towering figures in 20th century music. Ride shotgun as she follows Helm's wild exploits-from early Sixties cult hero with the Hawks to playing stadiums with Bob Dylan and the Band. This is the story of rock and roll."
-Brad Tolinski, author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound and Revolution of the Electric Guitar and Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page

"Tooze keeps a steady beat in [this] chronicle of the life of Band musician Levon Helm (1940-2012). Drawing on interviews with Helms's . . . close friends, and his music director Larry Campbell, Tooze traces Helm's life from his Arkansas childhood where he grew up listening to soul, country, blues, and gospel on the radio . . . [and] the rapid rise to fame of the Band through perceptive and judicious summaries of each of the group's albums.... [A] well-paced history."
-Publishers Weekly

"Sandra B. Tooze succinctly zeroes in on how an untrained Helm developed as a drummer, from his influences to the way 'he laid down his groove at the far end of the beat' because that's how you made the music more danceable.... While there's plenty in the book for drum enthusiasts, Tooze doesn't skimp on the main draw: the years between 1964 and 1977, when Helm and Canadians Robertson, Manuel, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson set out on their own.... Levon