Band Drummer Levon Helm Near Death
Acclaimed singer, multi-instrumentalist in final stages of cancer
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2012 1:27 AM CDT
Updated Apr 18, 2012 1:49 AM CDT
Levon Helm holds his 20-month-old grandson Lee Collins during an appearance on "Imus in the Morning" in October, 2009.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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(Newser) – Rock and roll is about to lose another legend. Levon Helm, drummer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist in The Band, is "in the final stages of his battle with cancer," according to a note posted to his website by family members. The 71-year-old musician from Arkansas was the only non-Canadian member of the acclaimed group, and put much of the country in its distinctive country-rock sound. He opted for radiation treatment instead of a laryngectomy after he was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 and went on to record three Grammy-winning solo albums.

"Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey,” says the note from his daughter, Amy, and wife, Sandy. “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 people dance! He did it every time he took the stage." At Saturday's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Band songwriter and guitarist Robbie Robertson prefaced his induction speech for a trio of recording engineers by saying: "We all need to send out love and prayers to my Band mate Levon Helm," the Los Angeles Times notes.