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Levon Helm Dead at 71

Singer/musician succumbs to cancer after decade-long battle.

photo by Walter Weissman/Zuma Press

Musician and actor Levon Helm died Thursday (April 19) at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer that began with a diagnosis in 1998. While he wasn't known or marketed as a country artist, Mr. Helm had plenty of connections in the country world. In addition to his work as drummer and vocalist with groundbreaking act (and one-time Bob Dylan backing group) The Band, Mr. Helm recorded solo albums in the late 1970s and early '80s as well as in recent years, and worked alongside Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, among others. His career as an actor saw him portray Loretta Lynn’s father in the film Coal Miner’s Daughter opposite Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. His 2011 live album, Ramble at the Ryman—recorded at the Nashville venue in 2008—won for Best Americana Album at this year's Grammy Awards. He had been scheduled to return to Nashville on May 6 to hold a Ramble at the Ryman concert at the Ryman Auditorium, but that show has been cancelled.

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