(CNN) — Levon Helm, the drummer, multi-instrumentalist and singer for The Band who kept the band’s heart for more than three decades, died “peacefully” Thursday afternoon, according to his record label, Vanguard Records. 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.
A statement from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Helm in 1994, called him the backbone of The 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.”