THE BAND: Levon Helm Is Near Death
Levon Helm, the singer and drummer with The Band, is near death. His musician daughter Amy and wife Sandy posted the following on his website yesterday: "Dear Friends, 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... We appreciate all the love and support and concern."
Helm, the voice of such Band classics as "The Weight," "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," has had numerous health issues since being diagnosed with throat cancer in the late '90s. But he's had a comeback of sorts these past few years with his Midnight Ramble shows and three Grammy Awards since 2008 for Best Folk Album -- Dirt Farmer -- and Best Americana Album -- Electric Dirt and Ramble at the Ryman.
In addition to being a musician, Helm has also narrated films and TV shows and has acted, most notably in Coal Miner's Daughter, The Right Stuff and Feeling Minnesota.
Helm has long been at odds with The Band's Robbie Robertson, claiming he and the other members of the group should be entitled to songwriting credits and royalties. But at Saturday's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Robertson sent out his "love and prayers" to his former bandmate.
Helm, who's 71, will be the third member of The Band to pass following Richard Manuel in 1986 and Rick Danko in 1999. Garth Hudson is the other surviving member.