Having been fighting throat cancer since 1998, Levon Helm finally succumbed to the disease on Thursday, April 19 afternoon. The singer and drummer for The Band passed away at the age of 71 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The news came just two days after it was announced that he was "in the final stage" of his fight with cancer.
Following the passing of the three-time Grammy Award winner, his family released a statement in his Facebook page. "Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon," it read. "He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul."
Helm's longtime guitarist Larry Campbell, meanwhile, offered more detailed account of the musician's last moment. "He passed away peacefully at 1:30 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and bandmates," he told 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," Campbell continued on recalling. "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."
As soon as news of his passing spread, tributes and testimonials began pouring out online. Country singer Loretta Lynn wrote on her Facebook page, "Levon Helm will always hold a special place in my heart. He was as great of an actor as a musician. For me watching him play the role of my daddy in 'Coal Miner's Daughter' is a memory I will always treasure."
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 took to his Twitter to express his condolence, and so did Sheryl Crow. "Levon Helm. He was THE BEST. Music is gonna miss him. One of the humble gods of rock and roll. Rest in Peace," Levine wrote, while Crow tweeted, "My heart heavy with sad news of Levon Helm's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with Levon's family."
Also paying respect through Twitter were the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Martina McBride and Kings of Leon's Jared Followill. Deschanel hailed Helm "a true inspiration", McBride simply wrote, "Rest in peace Levon," and Followill said in his tribute, "S**t. RIP Levon Helm. One of the great all time drummers. Music will miss you."
Helm is survived by wife Sandy and daughter Amy, who often played with him on stage. With his death, songwriter/guitarist Robbie Robertson and keyboardist Garth Hudson become the only two surviving members of The Band. On Tuesday, Robertson wrote on his Facebook page, "I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever."