The distinct voice of legendary rock group The Band, has been silenced after battling cancer. Levon Helm, drummer and singer of such Band classics as  "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down" and "Up on Cripple Creek”, has died at the age of 71.

Helm's website, levonhelm.com, confirmed his death.

"Levon Helm passed 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."

Helms endured a 1998 surgery and grueling series of treatments for throat cancer, that had left his voice a mere whisper. After a long recovery he was able to sing well enough to perform again, eventually releasing the critically-acclaimed 2007 album ‘Dirt Farmer.’ He had since maintained a steady schedule of live performances and record releases, although last month many of his scheduled concerts were cancelled.

His health took a dire turn Tuesday, when his wife and daughter posted a statement on his website;

"Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way on this stage of his journey."

In a recent appearance on his home turf of Woodstock, NY Levon gave a powerful rendition of 'The Weight'.