A much-loved figure in American music, Levon Helm was a singer and multi-instrumentalist whose Arkansas upbringing lent a genuine country feel to his work with The Band, which included the seminal songs "The Weight" and "Up on Cripple Creek. " He began playing music in his teens, eventually joining rockabilly veteran Ronnie Hawkins in the Hawks, who enjoyed a pair of modest hits in the early 1960s. Helm and his fellow Hawks Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson eventually formed their own group, which became The Band, Bob Dylan's one-time backing band during his conversion to rock-n-roll in the mid-1960s. The Band eventually established themselves as a formidable music entity apart from Dylan through a series of acclaimed albums that merged country, rock, blues and folk and laid the groundwork for what would eventually become known as Americana. When The Band split in 1976, Helm released solo efforts while enjoying a successful second career as an actor in "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980), among other films. In 1996, he was struck with throat cancer, which robbed him of his voice; he began organizing informal shows at his home in Woodstock that attracted major musicians to serve as his sidemen. The return of his distinctive voice preceded three Grammy-winning solo albums, but by 2012, the cancer had returned, eventually claiming his life in April of that year. His death robbed American music of one of its most enthusiastic and indomitable talents.