Levon Helm Dead: Drummer for The Band Dies at 71 After Long Battle With Cancer
Richard Manuel. Known as the Hawks, the sidemen would eventually get hired to back up Bob Dylan. Though Helm briefly quit the group, he returned and the musicians, sans Dylan, broke out on their own as The Band.
After a slew of critically acclaimed albums, including their 1968 debut Music From the Big Pink and their 1969 self-titled LP, The Band decided to retire from the road and held a star-studded farewell concert that was released as an album and Martin Scorsese-directed film called "The Last Waltz." The Band recorded Islands, their final album with the original lineup, following the concert.
Helm released four solo albums, beginning with 1977's Levon Helm & the RCO All-Stars, before the Band reunited without Robertson. Helm was later extremely critical of Robertson in his 1993 autobiography This Wheel's on Fire -- Levon Helm and the Story of The Band, accusing the guitarist of cheating the rest of the group out of songwriting credits and purposely getting too much of the spotlight in "The Last Waltz."
Click Through Photos Levon Helm
The Band continued on despite Richard Manuel's suicide in 1986, releasing three more albums before breaking up for good after Rick Danko's death in 1999. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, with Helm being the only member not to attend the service. In recent years, Helm was a prolific solo artist, beginning with 2007's Grammy-winning albums Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt.
Helm also battled health problems for years. He had been a heavy smoker for many years and in 1998 began treatment for throat cancer. The disease reduced his voice to barely a whisper and took many years to become stronger.
"I think there's that secret