Levon Helm, a drummer, actor and the last surviving voice of The Band, whose Southern tenor was heard on the group’s classic songs “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” died Thursday afternoon after a long battle with throat cancer. He was 71.
“He passed away peacefully at 1:30 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and bandmates,” Larry Campbell, Helm’s guitarist, told Rolling Stone. “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.”
It was announced on his website on Tuesday that the drummer was “in the final stages of his battle with cancer.”
By Marc Schneider, N.Y.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.