Levon Helm played at Woodstock 50 years ago. He passed away in 2012, but his legacy lives on in upstate New York. 

He grew up in Turkey Scratch, Ark.

"The name should paint an immediate picture," said his daughter, Amy Helm. "He said that he always just constantly beat on things, a drummer from the start."

Helm is regarded as one of the greatest drummers of a generation. His group, The Band, played at Woodstock. The concert was in some ways chaotic for the musicians, but the village of Woodstock, 90 minutes away, was where Levon found peace.

"He fell in love with it here. He said when he came to Woodstock, he knew he wanted to build a house here and stay," Amy said.

So Helm bought a piece of land tucked in the woods and built his dream: a recording studio. It was built in 1975 and still exists today for both recording and live shows.

Dubbed the Barn, it was everything for Levon. It’s where he lived, worked, and played.

"The first album he recorded was the Muddy Waters Woodstock album," Amy said. "He wanted to christen the room."

The "Midnight Rambles," which the barn is known for, included an 11-piece band. Amy was part of that, and so was whoever would just show up to play. It was a way for Levon, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, to make some money and employ fellow musicians.

"He had every struggle," Amy said. "You could write a list of the hardest things, and he went through it. Financial inconsistency, financial stress, drug abuse. The disease of drug and alcohol affects a lot of people, and he overcame all of it."


Helm lost his voice to throat cancer in the late 1990s, but it slowly came back after he beat cancer.

"He recorded three albums here that we recorded here that were great successes, and he won Grammys, and they were the story," Amy said.

A fire forced Levon to rebuild at one point, but that was only one time the dream nearly ended.

"There were many many years where he struggled financially, and this place was on the auction block many times, and we kept getting lucky," Amy said. "The same thing happened after he passed away. We were sort of in the same boat, and we had to find a solution and build the thing back up.

"When he was alive, it was easy to sell out those shows. Since his passing, we’ve had to build it back up in a very grassroots sort of way.

"He said 'keep it going' when he knew he was passing. It was one of the last things he said."