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Elton John was among the many musicians influenced by Levon Helm and The Band. That impact is memorialized in the song “Levon,” which John and writing partner Bernie Taupin named after the rock legend. Thursday, John spoke with EW and shared some of his favorite memories about Helm:

“When I heard The Band’s Music from Big Pink, their music changed my life. And Levon was a big part of that band. Nigel Olson, my drummer, will tell you that every drummer that heard him was influenced by him. He was the greatest drummer and a wonderful singer and just a part of my life that was magical. They once flew down to see me in Philadelphia and I couldn’t believe it. They were one of the greatest bands of all time. They really changed the face of music when their records came out. I had no idea he was sick so I’m very dismayed and shocked that he died so quickly. But now my son [Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John] has his name.”

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