According to the CBC, Ronnie Hawkins, the rockabilly star whose band the Hawks once included pre-fame members of The Band, has died.

Wanda Hawkins, Hawkins’ wife, confirmed to the Canadian Press that her husband died this morning (May 29) after a long illness. “He died peacefully, and he looked as handsome as ever,” she told the Canadian press over the phone. He was 87 years old at the time.

Hawkins was born in 1935 in Huntsville, Arkansas, but his family moved to Fayetteville when he was a child. From a young age, he was captivated by the music and began performing in local bars in 1953. Five years later, local musician Levon Helm, who would go on to play drums and sing in the Band, joined Hawkins’ group the Hawks.

Hawkins moved to Hamilton, Ontario at the time on the advice of country singer Conway Twitty. Hawkins performed on the bar circuit and had a hit with his rendition of “Hey, Bo Diddley.” Soon after, he released his first full-length album, self-titled, on Roulette Records. Like most of Hawkins’ catalog, the album included a number of covers, including minor hits “Forty Days” and “Mary Lou.” Hawkins’ rendition of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” became one of his most successful singles. Hawkins’ energetic live performances earned him the nicknames “Mr. Dynamo” and “Rompin’ Ronnie” for his gregarious dancing, which included the “camel walk.”

His band, the Hawks, had a changing lineup. Helm, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and Robbie Robertson were among those who went on to become Bob Dylan’s backing musicians and later recorded as the Band. Members of Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, David Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat and Tears, actor Beverly D’Angelo, and others were also Hawks alumni.

Martin Scorsese’s iconic 1978 rockumentary The Last Waltz, which chronicled the Band’s farewell concert at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom in 1976, featured Hawkins prominently. Hawkins was among several special guests, including Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, and Neil Young. Hawkins would reunite with the Band for a concert commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Still Cruisin’, Hawkins’ final album, was released in 2002. He recently hosted longtime friends Kris Kristofferson and Gordon Lightfoot for recording sessions at his home studio.