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Dylan leads tributes to Levon Helm

The death of Levon Helm from cancer at the age of 71 has inspired tributes from rock luminaries. Helm was the drummer and leader of The Band, who became famous as Bob Dylan’s associates in the 1960s and later as the subjects of Martin Scorsese’s 1976 concert film The Last Waltz.

Dylan led the tributes with a message posted on his website: "He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation. This is just so sad to talk about. I still can remember the first day I met him and the last day I saw him. We go back pretty far and had been through some trials together. I'm going to miss him, as I'm sure a whole lot of others will too."

Helm drummed with Dylan when the singer made the momentous decision to go electric. Helm was so disturbed by the hostile audience reaction that he fled back to Arkansas. He later returned to rejoin The Band and Dylan for the legendary Basement Tapes recordings.

The Band became important pioneers in the field of music later called Americana, recording iconic songs like The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Weight and Acadian Driftwood. Helm fell out with the guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson in 1976 over control of The Band. After a long feud, the pair reconciled on Helm’s deathbed.

After The Band split, Helm released occasional solo albums and enjoyed a career in movies, appearing in A Coal-Miner’s Daughter, The Right Stuff and Feeling Minnesota, among others.

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