The Band star Levon Helm has lost his battle with throat cancer. Helm passed away today in New York at the age of 71.
Levon’s longtime guitarist Larry Campbell announced the death in a statement to RollingStone.com, stating, “He passed away peacefully at 1:30 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and bandmates.
“All his friends were there, and it seemed like Levon was waiting for them. Ten minutes after they left we sat there and he just faded away. He did it with dignity. It was even two days ago they thought it would happen within hours, but he held on. It seems like he was Levon up to the end, doing it the way he wanted to do it. He loved us, we loved him.”
The Grammy-Award winning musician could play the guitar by the age of eight and then learned to play drums.
Helm started playing in clubs at the age of 17 with his first band named The Hawks, who became Bob Dylan’s backing group for a short time.
The Hawks went on to be called The Band, releasing hits such as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “The Weight”.
Levon was diagnosed with throat cancer over ten years ago and was unable to speak for awhile, but made his return to music in the band Midnight Rambles.
Helm was the narrator in the movie “The Right Stuff” and played the role of Loretta Lynn’s father in the biopic “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.
Levon and his estranged bandmate Robbie Robertson put aside their 35-year feud on Sunday when he visited his old The Band bandmate in the hospital.
Helm’s wife Sandy and daughter Amy posted a message on his website on Tuesday asking fans to send “prayers and love” to the ill rockerr as he battled through the final stages of cancer.
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