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Levon Helm

He saw the birth of rock and roll and though he's too much of a gentleman to say it, his role in helping to keep that rebellious child healthy is more than just instrumental. On May 26, 1940, Mark Lavon Helm was the second of four children born to Nell and Diamond Helm in Elaine, Arkansas. Diamond was a cotton farmer who entertained occasionally as a musician. The Helm's loved music and often sang together. They listened to The Grand Ole Opry and Sonny Boy Williamson and his King Biscuit Entertainers regularly on the radio. A favorite family pastime was attending traveling music shows in the area. According to his 1993 autobiography, This Wheel's On Fire, Levon recalls seeing his first live show, Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, at six years old. His description: “This really tattooed my brain. I've never forgotten it.”

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