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Levon Helm Dead: The Band Singer Dies After Cancer Battle

Posted: 04/19/2012 3:09 pm Updated: 04/19/2012 11:03 pm

The Band singer Levon Helm is dead at age 71 after a long battle with cancer, the Times Herald-Record reports. He passed away April 19 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Helm's guitarist and band leader, Larry Campbell, confirmed Helm's death with the 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 diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998. A message posted on his website by his family on April 17 announced he was "in the final stage of his battle with cancer."

Helm achieved fame as singer and drummer for the roots rock group, The Band, and he can be heard on their classic tracks, including "The Weight" and "Up on Cripple Creek." He also played Loretta Lynn's father in "Coal Miner's Daughter," among other roles.

In 2007, Helm won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his studio album, "Dirt Farmer," and his 2010 album, "Electric Dirt," won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. He followed his win in 2011 by taking home the same award for his live album, "Ramble at the Ryman."

Helm's former bandmate, Robbie Robertson, released a statement Wednesday.

"...Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I’ve ever known and very much like an older brother to me. I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever..."

Helm's family also thanked his fans for their dedication on his website:

"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 is survived by his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Amy.

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