Famed member of The Band and Bob Dylan touring rock band dies from complications of cancer

By Stephen Pate – His family posted this brief message on Facebook

“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.”

He had suffered from throat cancer which has been in remission, although his singing voice never fully recovered.

Update – Remembering Levon Helm

Levon Helm on mandolin at Harvest Blues and Jazz Festival 2011 (photo Stephen Pate)

His daughter Amy accompanied him on stage and often took the singing role to ease his load. While in obvious discomfort in recent years while performing, he never stopped smiling at the audience.

His recent performances were probably more thrilling than years ago. He still had his mojo.

Levon Helm in "Coal Miner's Daughter" with Sissy Spacek (photo Universal)

Levon Helm was also an acclaimed actor. He played Loretta Lynn’s father in the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and flying speed ace Chuck Yeager’s right hand man in “The Right Stuff.”

He wrote his own controversial autobiography and accused band mate Robbie Robertson of appropriating songwriting copyrights of The Band for himself.

Two days ago, his family gave his fans and friends a heads up on Facebook. Rock and Roll legend Levon Helm near death says family

“He passed away peacefully at 1:30 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and bandmates,” Helm’s longtime guitarist Larry Campbell  tells 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.” (MSNBC)

Levon Helm (far left) with Bob Dylan and The Band, Carnegie Hall 1968 (Washington Post / AP Photo)

Levon Helm was an alumnus of Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks before he joined the first road tour band with Bob Dylan in 1965. In 1968, he and his band mates formed the seminal rock band simply called “The Band”. They enjoyed an 8-year career until they broke up after filming Scorsese’s ‘The Last Waltz.’

A multi-instrumentalist, Levon Helm brought a unique complex drumming style plus genuine roots in Southern American rock.

He continued to perform during the 1980s and 1990s.

‘The Weight’ – Levon Helm and friends – August 2009, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville.

His “Midnight Rambles” in Woodstock New York were small audience affairs that featured some of the best roots and rock.

He will be missed by his family, friends, and fans. Levon Helm left his mark on music and rock and roll.

See – Rock and Roll legend Levon Helm near death says family for longer biography, autobiography, and selected videos and recordings.