“Take a load off, Fanny” Levon Helm of The Band dies of cancer at 71

Rock and Roll music has lost one of its greats. Levon Helm, a rock multi-instrumentalist who achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band, lost his battle with throat cancer on April 19, 2012.

The Band is famous for such songs as, “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” for which Helm delivers soulful, country-accented laments. Helm was born in Arkansas and was the only non-Canadian member of The Band.

The name, The Band, comes from the group’s early days touring as Bob Dylan’s live band, just after Dylan ditched his acoustic-folk sound for a Fender guitar and amplifier. The group was referred to as “Bob Dylan and the Band” during Dylan’s U.S. and World tours in 1965-66, and the name thereafter stuck.

On April 17, 2012, Helm’s wife Sandy and daughter Amy revealed that Helm had end-stage cancer. They posted the following message on Helm’s website: “Dear Friends, Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration…he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…We appreciate all the love and support and concern.”

While the rock and roll world is mourning the loss of this great musician and singer, Helm’s music and voice will carry on forever in his heavily influential songs.