Legendary drummer Levon Helm is on the verge of losing his battle with cancer, according to a statement released on his official website. Helm was both drummer and singer for The Band, who first gained attention as the backing group for Bob Dylan after the folk singer decided to go electric in the mid-1960s.
Levon Helm and The Band came to even greater provenance after the release of their first record without Dylan, "Music From Big Pink" released in 1968. The group remained popular enough that Martin Scorsese directed a film of their final show, released as the acclaimed documentary "The Last Waltz" in 1978. "The Last Waltz" remains near the top of many best-of documentary lists.
Helm was not much of a fan of "The Last Waltz", telling a reporter that "[The film was]the biggest fuckin' rip-off that ever happened to The Band."
Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late 90s. The full text of the statement appears below.
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