Levon Helm, the revered multi-instrumentalist and singer for the group the Band, is in the final stages of cancer, according to his family.
A heartbreaking note appeared on the musician's website Tuesday announcing that he is terminally ill:
Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. 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.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy
Helm was scheduled to play Wellmont Theater in New Jersey earlier this month but cancelled due to a back injury. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, former bandmate Robbie Robertson sent "love and prayers" out to Helm.
Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in the 1990s but had since beaten it back. In the fall of 2007 he released the brilliant album Dirt Farmer, Helm's first studio solo recording since 1982. His voice, silenced by the disease, had returned a little thinner, but with its characteristic grit and class. It won him a Grammy for the year's best traditional folk album.
Helm, who grew up working on an Arkansas farm, is known for a soulfully gravelled vocal delivery – country-baked and whiskey soaked. He can be heard singing and playing on many of the Band's most classic recordings, such as The Weight, Up on Cripple Creek, Ophelia and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
One of my favorite Band songs - "Don't Do It" from The Academy of Music with that fabulous horn section. That's Snooky Young right behind Levon:
Ride easy, Levon.