Earlier this week, we reported that Levon Helm, drummer for The Band, was in his final stages of his battle with cancer. Helm died Thursday at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, according to Chicago Tribune. He was 71.
Band mate Larry Campbell told Times Herald-Record, “We lost Levon at 1:30 today surrounded by friends and family, and his musicians have visited him. As sad as this was, it was very peaceful.”
Helm was the only American player in the Canada based group, The Band, who gained popularity in the 60’s and 70’s. Helm provided the vocals on such songs like “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up on Cripple Creek.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
After The Band spilt, Helm pursued a solo career and even branched out into acting, playing Loretta’s father in 1980 “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” His solo career has earned him three Grammys in the last ten years.
Born in Arkansas, Helm was exposed to musicians like Bill Monroe and blues singer Sonny Boy Willamson, who inspired his musical background.
The Band, upon wishes of band member Robbie Robertson, called it quits in 1976 with one final farewell concert titled “The Last Waltz.” Helm moved on to record his solo albums in the 70’s and 80’s. In 1983, The Band reunited without Robertson.
Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999, and after a tumor was removed, began singing again in 2004. His last release “Ramble at the Ryman” (2011), is a live recording made at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in 2008.
He is survived by his wife Sandy and daughter Amy.
Helm's performance from The Last Waltz:
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