Happy Birthday, Rick Danko

by mikeflanagan1

On the day Rick Danko was born, the angels sang. Rick sang harmony.

Rick Danko would have been 67 today. He died in his sleep on Dec. 10, 1999 at his home near Big Pink where his Band recorded arguably one of the greatest and inarguably the most underrated album in rock’n’roll history. No doubt he would have been thumping alongside longtime friend Levon Helm in his Midnight Ramble; Danko always spearheaded the movement to at least partially reunite The Band, albeit without principle songwriter and self-dubbed captain Robbie Robertson.

Rick shared vocal duties with Helm and Richard Manuel in The Band, and was usually designated the most heartrending songs in Robertson’s repertoire. His voice sympathized with any audience that asked for its support, boasting a range that covered everything from frantic uncertainty (“Stage Fright”) to plain, unadulterated heartbreak (“Makes No Difference”). His bass playing was markedly active but never cluttered; he somehow managed to compliment the drums, guitar, piano, and vocals all at the same time while anchoring the songs simultaneously (see “Ring Your Bell,” “Life Is A Carnival”).

Danko was the fun-loving soul of the multi-faceted Band and carried the same uplifting spirit through his tragically ill-fated post-Band career. As his gravestone reads, Rick Danko will be “Forever Young, Forever Loved” by his revolving generation of fans.

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