Levon Helm Dies at 71 After a Long Battle With Cancer – Legendary drummer and vocalist of The Band Levon Helm died on April 19 after a long, painful battle with cancer. Levon Helm was 71.
The remarkable musician, who was known for his unique ability to make people emotional with his drumming, continued to produce music till the last years of his life. Levon Helm also won Grammys for his successful work in albums Dirt Farmer (2007), Electric Dirt (2009), and Ramble At The Ryman (2011).
Last week his wife and daughter shared about his critical final stages of the disease on his website, which resulted in tributes and good wishes pouring in from fans and celebrities. Helm began his struggle with cancer in 1998, which he initially overcame and returned to the stage. It is not clear whether this cancer was a relapse of the same one or otherwise.
He was born as Mark Lavon Helm on May 26, 1940 in Elaine, Arkansas to cotton farmers and music lovers Nell and Diamond Helm. He was raised in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas and began his journey in music at the age of eight. He started playing the guitar and then moved on to drums, which began his niche in later years.
Helm names many acts that influenced him in his early years including Grand Ole Opry show on the radio, F.S. Walcott’s Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elvis Presley. At 17, Levon Helm began playing music in local bars and clubs.
Apart from his work with The Band, Levon Helm was also part of many dramatic films like Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), End of the Line (1987), Fire Down Below (1997), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), Shooter (2007) and In the Electric Mist (2009).
Levon Helm released a total of sixteen albums with The Band in years 1968 to 1998. He also has fourteen solo albums to his name which he released in the 1977 to 2011 span of time. Reportedly Elton John‘s song ‘Levon‘ was named after Levon Helm.
As a member of The Band, Levon Helm was inducted in the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.