Levon Helm, legendary drummer of The Band, has passed away at the age of 71 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and family at NYC’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center according to the Times Herald-Record. On Tuesday we found out Helm was in “the final stages of his battle with cancer” and today he succumbed to the dreaded disease.
An official statement from Helm’s family reads:
“Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul.”
Levon may best have been known for his time in The Band, but over the last few years he reinvented his career. The drummer worked with an incredibly wide range of artists from all corners of the music world including classic rock, indie rock, bluegrass, Americana and jambands. The reactions that have come in the past few days show just how many acts were touched by his amazing musicianship and the soul he displayed in both his drumming and vocals. We’re comforted by long-time collaborator Larry Campbell telling the Poughkeepsie Journal, “he went peacefully.” Campbell 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.”
Words can’t express our sorrow over the loss of our scene’s patriarch, but we’ll try. Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out a series of posts called “Love For Levon” in which we’ll share our favorite memories and thoughts about our hero. We’ve been keeping track of reactions to the news about Levon in Tuesday’s post and have started to collect remembrances, obituaries, tweets and musical tributes that have followed today’s sorrowful news.
- Love For Levon: Reactions to the Death of Levon Helm