Levon Helm, drummer and vocalist for The Band, has died in New York at the age of 71. Helm had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998.

In a statement yesterday on Helms' website, his manager Barbara O'Brien wrote: "Levon Helm passed away peacefully this afternoon. 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 was playing shows as recently as a few weeks ago but was forced to cancel when his health deteriorated significantly.

Bob Dylan said on his website of Helms' passing: "He was my bosom buddy friend to the end, one of the last true great spirits of this 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 is survived by Sandy, his wife and daughter Amy.