Levon Helm in "final stages" of cancer battle, family says
Drummer and singer Levon Helm, best known for his work behind the kit with The Band, is dying of cancer, according to his family.
"Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer," reads a statement from Helm's daughter, Amy and wife, Sandy, posted today on Helm's website. "Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.
"Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage...
"We appreciate all the love and support and concern," the statement concluded.
Helm, 71, was diagnosed with throat cancer and recovered in the late '90s, but it was many years before he could sing again. His career got new life in recent years playing so-called Midnight Ramble shows (with guests that have included the likes of Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Donald Fagen) at his home studio in Woodstock, NY.
Word of Helm's grave illness comes as a surprise, as he was still playing shows earlier this spring. In early April, he recently called off his scheduled Midnight Rambles for April 7 and 14, citing back problems, and also canceled a planned show Montclair, NJ. Earlier this week, he pulled out of a planned performance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, citing back problems.