Levon Helm, who drummed and sang with The Band, has died:
"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."Rolling Stone claims that Helm was "literally a witness to the birth of rock & roll", by which they mean that as a teenager he saw Elvis and Little Richard playing gigs. Certainly he was inspired; by 1960 he was part of a backing band for Ronnie Hawkins which contained the team who become the Crackers, then Levon And The Hawks, and then Bob Dylan's backing band.
Levon took a break from the group during 1965, when their role helping Bob Dylan's eletrification of the folk circuit brought so much hatred he needed a rest. By the time he rejoined, the band was The Band and were already stepping out from Dylan.
After Robbie Robertson split the group - against Helm's wishes - in 1976, the pair would enter into a longterm grudge-feud that was so bad Levon refused to attend The Band's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Which makes Levon a good few years ahead of Axl Rose.
Levon Helm was 71. He had throat cancer.