Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm (May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012)
Musician and singer Levon Helm has passed away from throat cancer at the age of 71. With guitarist Robbie Robertson and pianist Richard Manuel, Helm formed a group that became Bob Dylan's back-up band and then simply The Band.
Helm was known for his deeply soulful, country-accented voice, and creative drumming style highlighted on many of the Band's recordings, such as "The Weight", "Up on Cripple Creek", "Ophelia" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". His 2007 comeback album Dirt Farmer earned the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in February 2008, and in November of that year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #91 in the list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. In 2010, Electric Dirt, his 2009 follow-up to Dirt Farmer, won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, an inaugural category in 2010. In 2011, his live album Ramble at the Ryman was nominated for the Grammy in the same category and won.
On April 17, 2012, his wife and daughter announced on Helm's website that he was "in the final stages of his battle with cancer" and thanked fans while requesting prayers. Two days later, Helm died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
“In Mr. Helm’s drumming, muscle, swing, economy and finesse were inseparably merged. His voice held the bluesy, weathered and resilient essence of his Arkansas upbringing in the Mississippi Delta,” The New York Times said.
"On Sunday I went to New York and visited him in the hospital. I sat with Levon for a good while, and thought of the incredible and beautiful times we had together. It was heartwarming to be greeted by his lovely daughter Amy, whom I have known since she was born. Amy's mother, Libby Titus, and her husband, Donald Fagen, were so kind to help walk me through this terrible time of sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sandy," band mate Robbie Robertson told CBS News.