Levon Helm Dead At 71

Levon Helm (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
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Levon Helm (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

Levon Helm, famous drummer of The Band has passed away.

The 71-year-old Arkansas native lost his battle with cancer Thursday.

“Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon,” a statement on Helm’s website read. “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.”

Just yesterday his family revealed that he was in the final stages of cancer through a statement released on his website.

“Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey,” his daughter Amy and wife Sandy said before thanking fans:

“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.”

Helm was first diagnosed with throat cancer in the 1990s and according to reports, he damaged his vocal cords following radiation treatment and was forced to cancel recent performances in both New York and New Orleans.

While Helm was known for successful solo work, he’s best known for his work in notable 1960s group, The Band. The group produced hit albums like “Music from Big Pink” and “The Band” and songs like “The Weight,” which went on to be ranked 41st best song of all time in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Rolling Stone’s ranking wasn’t the only acknowledgement The Band received over the years, they have been recognized a number of times for their music. In 1989, The group was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and in 1994, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Band officially broke up in 1999 (before that they broke up in 1976 and reformed again in 1983). Following their breakup, they were ranked 50 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and received Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.