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In Memoriam

Levon Helm Before playing drums and singing with The Band, Levon Helm was born Mark Lavon Helm near Elaine, Arkansas in 1940 and grew up at Turkey Scratch, west of Helena. He started playing with rockabilly singer and fellow Arkansan Ronnie Hawkins out of high school eventually forming Levon and the Hawks from that outfit. Helm and The Band hit it big in the late 1960s, playing with Bob Dylan and scoring hits with “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Weight” and toured and recorded until 1976. While The Band took a break, Helm released some solo projects to wide acclaim.  The Band reformed in 1983 without Robertson and toured over the next 19 years.  As a child, he was influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson and that influence continued with The Band, a group known for incorporating many styles including country, rock and blues and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. A multi-talented musician (Helm played drums, mandolin, guitar and harmonica), he was famous for his vocals and songwriting and also found a successful career in acting appearing in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Right Stuff,” and “Shooter.” He died in 2012 after battling cancer. Helm is the only artist to be honored with two Grammy awards for Best Americana Album (in 2010, when the award was first presented, and again in 2012).












Del Blake  December 10, 1942~November 4, 2019 originally from Seattle WA, Del was born in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. He pursued his musical career and moved to New York City where he was a page at NBC and worked with the Johnny Carson Show. He was noticed by Buddy Greco and was soon playing with his company. While playing with Greco, he was admired by Sammy Davis Jr. and soon was touring the world. At age 23 he played Carnegie Hall in New York with Davis, who introduced him as “The Greatest Drummer in the World.” Del was named the National Rudimental Drumming Champion, 1963. Toured the world with Tom Jones, recorded in studio with the Wrecking Crew as 1st call percussionist, toured with Woody Herman, Mel Torme, The Count Basie Orchestra, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard and Sonny Rollins, Rich Little, the ice skater Peggy Fleming, Valerie Bertinelli, Phyllis Diller, Ann Margret, Barry Manilow, Mitzi Gaynor, Jack Benny, Pearl Bailey, Vikki Carr, Shriley MacLaine, Milton Berle, the Osmonds, The Lennon Sisters, Burt Bacharach, Don Rickles, Liza Minelli, Marilyn Maye, Jim Stafford, and Debbie Reynolds. In his career, he played as a percussionist for Mel Torme, Tom Jones, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Englebert Humperdink and many others. He played the Los Angeles studio scene, where he was the percussionist for music scores of several movies and television shows including Hawaii 5-0 and Mission Impossible. Del moved to Fayetteville AR in 1998 to pursue tech training, but ultimately fell back into drumming with Al Lopez’s Latin group and pursuing a World Title in Scottish Pipe Band drumming…














Ralph Terry Cagle was born in Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas, in 1950. He grew up in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas and is the nephew of legendary musician, Levon Helm (see above).  Cagle is a self-taught drummer who began working as a professional musician at age fifteen. In 1966 Cagle's uncle, Levon Helm, recruited him as the drummer for the Del-Reys, a group which later became the Cate Brothers. As part of the group, Cagle shared the stage with such bands as the Grateful Dead and Queen. In 1983 he toured with the Cate Brothers when they performed with The Band in Japan. Cagle remained with the Cate Brothers until 1989. In the early 2000s, Cagle started a band called the Jungle Bush Beaters, named after Helm's first band in high school. Cagle then rejoined Earl Cate in the group, Earl and Them. Cagle passed away on February 11, 2023.

















Porky Hill born 1951 inherited his talent naturally. His parents were professional entertainers who played with the Count Basie Orchestra. He personally knew and played with B.B.King, Joe Morello, Jimmy Reed, Albert King, and Bobby Blue Bland among others. Porky once said his greatest influence was from his one-time music teacher Elvin Jones. After college he served 13 years in the USAF, first as a chopper medic in Vietnam, and then playing in the official USAF rock band, "Mach One", performing all over the globe. After spending a few years in Memphis, he moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1987 to work in Paul Hughes's Wonder Valley Recording Studio. He also played with Paul in several local bands. It was also at this time he met up with M.R. Keck and began serving as Keeper of the Sticks in Keck's "Whiplash Gumbo". It was in 1988 that he got his start playing with The Cate Brothers. While with The Cate Brothers he played for many prestigious dates, including the Inaugural Ball for President Clinton. Porky died in 2000 after complications from a lung infection.















Sam Carr 1926, blues drummer Sam Carr was born near Marvell, Arkansas. In 1962, Carr joined the Jelly Roll Kings, an electric blues band which attained fame with guitarist Big Jack Johnson. Carr was featured with guitarist Ry Cooder on the soundtrack of the 1986 movie Crossroads. Carr contributed his unique drumming to albums by numerous blues musicians, including T-Model Ford, Asie Payton, Robert Walker, Paul "Wine" Jones, Lonnie Shields, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Floyd Lee & His Mean Blues Band, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, and Buddy Guy. In his later years, Carr led his own group, the Delta Jukes, often working with Dave Riley on guitar and vocals. The group recorded several albums, including Working for the Blues (2002), Down in the Delta (2004), and Let the Good Times Roll. Carr was featured in film and television documentaries about Mississippi blues, including The Blues: Feel Like Going Home (2003) directed by Martin Scorsese and the award winning "Full Moon Lightnin'" (2008) by filmmaker John C. Gardiner.














James “Peck” Curtis was born in 1912 in Benoit, Miss., and  moved to Helena Arkansas in 1929. He gained fame playing drums on the “King Biscuit Time” show. Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lockwood Jr. were key members of the  original King Biscuit Entertainers studio band, joined later by Pinetop Perkins and Curtis. He died on November 1, 1970  in Helena and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery.























Tommy “Porkchop” Markham (1941-1993) - Musician. Born in Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas, he was a drummer best known for being country singer Conway Twitty's drummer for 31 years. In 1962, he left teacher's college to join up with Conway Twitty's band and went on to also co-write the lyrics for some of Conway Twitty's most popular songs. He died in Davidson County, Tennessee from complications of diabetes at age 52.

















Jack Mitchell . born 1923 died 2012. Mitchell began his musical career at the age of 17 as the featured boy drummer in an all-girl orchestra. He continued to play in various bands throughout his life. Mitchell retired to Bella Vista, Arkansas in the 1980s, after a career in sales and exports. He also served in the Army Air Corps during World War II including the Air Corps Band and was an author and an inventor of board games. Mitchell started the Jack Mitchell Big Band in the late 1980s. The band played at both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugural balls. In 2007 Mitchell was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame.

















Bob Ketchum November 1, 1946 - January 28, 2015 of Henderson, Arkansas. From his self bio: I have been a professional musician since 1964. Although drums is my main instrument, I also play and compose on guitar, bass and synth. I started on the drums in my late teen's playing in the local band "The Vipers". We stayed together 5 years and performed Rock & Roll and R&B at private parties and college frat parties throughout the late 60's. Opening for concert acts and studio experience influenced most of my musical skills. Earned a Gold LP for drums on Freddy Fender's Wasted Days & Wasted Nights" in 1975. In June of 1976, after 12 years of radio broadcasting and recording experience, I moved back to my hometown to fulfill a lifelong dream of having my own recording studio "back in the woods" which I call CEDAR CREST STUDIO. I received two Gold Records in the 80's while working with the Swiss metal band KROKUS. I still have the same drum set I bought new in 1964 and learned how to play on, a 4-piece set of Ludwig Super Classics with oyster black pearl finish. It is actually the Ringo Starr set model, cymbals and all.















Randy Reese October 17, 1954 - August 13, 2022 (from Buddy Shute Website) "Randy got his first drum kit at the age of twelve and has been playing ever since. His energy and positive attitude was infectious, and his timing was second to none. He's played in many bands, in many cities over the years, and his musical influences include Steve Gadd, Omar Hakim, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo and Taj Mahal. Randy performed most recently with Buddy Shute and the Motivators."  (from obituary) Randy Wayne Reese (Dobie), 67 years old of Avoca, AR, passed away August 13th, 2022 in Fayetteville, AR surrounded by his family. Randy was born in Lima Ohio, October 17th, 1954, to Wayne Reese and Bettyelu Steele Coats Reese. He graduated Class of 1974 from Bentonville High School.  Randy was a Real Estate Agent and Photographer at eXp Reality and was a talented drummer for Buddy Shute & the Motivators. He enjoyed making music, he was a wonderful friend, a dog whisperer, and loved his family unconditionally. Randy was one-of-a-kind, he never met a stranger, extremely witty with his dad jokes, and an amazing musician. Above all of that, his #1 passion was his family.

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