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Known best as the drummer and singer for the influential and legendary rock group, The Band, Levon Helm passed away at 71. The musician, actor and producer died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, according to a Vanguard Records spokeswoman. Born in 1940, Helm was introduced to music when given a guitar at age 9. According to The New York Times, Helm was in 11th grade when he was approached by Ronnie Hawkins, a rockabilly singer who hired Helm as a drummer. Hawkins would go on to assemble The Band, which would first start as Bob Dylan’s backup band and then move into the limelight on its own merit. After the breakup, Helm continued to be influential in the music industry, whether playing with The Band’s partial lineup or playing in entirely new bands. Helm’s drum style is famous for it’s simplicity yet solid groove structure, which propelled The Band to be one of the most solid jam bands ever, as displayed on the famous documentary, The Last Waltz. As the three resounding drumbeats introduce The Band’s most famous song, “The Weight,” take a load off, Levon Helm. You’ve deserved it.
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