Martin Scorsese Captures Levon Helm and The Band Performing “The Weight” in The Last Waltz

Born in Arkansas in 1940, Lev­on Helm grew up lis­ten­ing Elvis Pres­ley, Lit­tle Richard, John­ny Cash and Jer­ry Lee Lewis. By the 1960s, he began putting his per­son­al stamp on rock ’n’ roll. Dur­ing those years, Helm and gui­tarist Rob­bie Robert­son joined Bob Dylan’s ever-so-con­tro­ver­sial elec­tric band and played togeth­er dur­ing the infa­mous­ly tumul­tuous 1966 tour. Then, Helm and Robert­son decid­ed to form their own band — The Band. Robert­son wrote or co-wrote most of their songs, while Helm often gave voice to them. And so things went until they did­n’t.

In 1976, The Band broke up, but not before they played an epic final con­cert that Mar­tin Scors­ese doc­u­ment­ed for pos­ter­i­ty in his film, The Last Waltz. Decades lat­er, many crit­ics con­sid­er it “the great­est rock con­cert movie ever made.” And although the film con­sist­ed most­ly of live footage from their farewell con­cert in San Fran­cis­co, Scors­ese filmed one of The Band’s mem­o­rable songs, “The Weight,” on an MGM sound­stage. You can find the per­for­mance above, and Lev­on Helm singing soul­ful­ly on drums. The scene also fea­tures a guest appear­ance by Mavis Sta­ples, along with her father and sis­ters in The Sta­ple Singers.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jean-Luc Godard Films The Rolling Stones Record­ing “Sym­pa­thy for the Dev­il” (1968)

Mar­tin Scorsese’s Very First Films: Three Imag­i­na­tive Short Works

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