The Band drummer Levon Helm dies at 71
Music pioneer Levon Helm, best known as the drummer in The Band, who's hits include "The Weight" and "Up on Cripple Creek," has passed away at the age of 71.
Helm died this morning at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City after a long battle with throat cancer.
The news of his upcoming death was expected and he was able to be surrounded by loved ones. His daughter Amy and wife Sandy released this statement earlier this week:
"Dear Friends,Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage...We appreciate all the love and support and concern.From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy"
"He went peacefully," said Larry Campbell, music director of the Levon Helm Band. "He was surrounded by friends and band mates and family."
A message on www.levonhelm.com simply read, "Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul."
Helm was best known as the drummer of The Band but was a well accomplished musician in his own right. He won a Grammy Award in 2010 for his album Electric Dirt, the first ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. Helm achieved the feat again winning the same Grammy Award for his 2011 live album Ramble at the Ryman. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Helm #91 in the list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
While a member of The Band Helm received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for the influence they had in Americana music with their hits “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Dixie Down,” “Up on Cripple Creek”, “Ophelia” and "Evangeline."
The Band released six studio albums throughout the sixties and seventies, the last being 1976's The Last Waltz, a live concert album that was staged at the Winterland ballroom in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day. Legendary director Martin Scorsese turned the farewell show at the Winterland into the documentary The Last Waltz.
Helm will be missed my many fans and celebrities including Sir Elton John, who's song "Levon" and son Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John are named after him.
Levon Helm is survived by his wife Sandy and daughter Amy.