Levon Helm - the drummer and lead vocalist of The Band - has lost his battle to throat cancer.  He was 71.

"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," the record label's statement said.

Helm was at the forefront of the 60's folk-rock world that culminated with The Band - a group that Bob Dylan described as his all-time favorite band.

"As a member of the one of the most influential rock and roll groups, The Band, Levon Helm produced music that was as much timeless as it was timely," it said. "In the late 1960s and early 1970s when the country was divided, The Band still projected a sense of unity and brought generations of fans together from all over the world."

Helm was also an accomplished actor - staring in Coal Miners Daughter as the father to Sissy Spacek's Loretta Lynn.

Battling cancer the last few years, Helm might have withdrawn from national road tours, but he kept musically active near home.

At his home in Woodstock, New York, he regularly hosted the Midnight Ramble, weekly concerts that attracted sell-out crowds and all-star support from the likes of Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson and Steely Dan's Donald Fagen. In the past decade, he recorded two albums, 2007's "Dirt Farmer" and 2009's "Electric Dirt," that won Grammys. And he occasionally took the show on the road, making appearances at Tennessee's Bonnaroo, the Newport Folk Festival and Los Angeles' Greek Theater.