The Band's Levon Helm Dies Of Cancer At 71

Apr 20, 2012
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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

Now we remember another great musician. Singer and drummer Levon Helm died yesterday of cancer. He was seventy-one.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Helm and his group played as a backup band for Bob Dylan in the 1960s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A ROLLING STONE")

INSKEEP: And the group became famous enough that after awhile, they didn't even need Dylan. They became simply The Band. And with Helm on lead vocals, they produced some of the most memorable songs of the era.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UP ON CRIPPLE CREEK")

NEARY: Helm grew up playing blues and folk songs with his family in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas. Those songs would have a profound influence on him throughout his long career.

INSKEEP: That career continued until the 1990s, when it was interrupted. He lost his voice from cancer of the vocal chords. It took him years to learn to talk and laugh again, as he told NPR in 2006.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

INSKEEP: And a few years before his death, Levon Helm sang with his daughter, Amy, on a tune called "The Blind Child" on the Grammy-award winning album, "Dirt Farmer."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE BLIND CHILD")

NEARY: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.