Levon Helm in “Final Stages” of Battle With Cancer

Singer, musician and actor Levon Helm, a member of The Band who sang lead vocals on classics such as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “The Weight,” is in the “final stages” of his lengthy battle with cancer, his wife and daughter confirmed in a message posted Tuesday (April 17) on his website. The announcement comes after the 71-year-old entertainer canceled his weekly Midnight Ramble concert at his studio in Woodstock, N.Y., and other performances, including a May 5 appearance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late ’90s and underwent radiation treatments that damaged his vocal cords. After his recovery, he continued to play drums and mandolin but enlisted guest vocalists for his Midnight Ramble series but eventually began singing and touring. He returned to recording with his Dirt Farmer album in 2007, followed by Electric Dirt in 2009. Ramble at the Ryman, released in 2011, was recorded in 2008 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and includes guest appearances by Sheryl Crow, John Hiatt, Buddy Miller, Billy Bob Thornton and others. He was scheduled to play another concert at the Ryman on May 6. His acting credits include a role as Loretta Lynn’s father in the 1980 film, Coal Miner’s Daughter. In the message on his website, Helm’s wife Sandy and daughter Amy wrote, “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.”