Musician/Actor Levon Helm Near Death

In “final stages of his battle with cancer.”

photo by Walter Weissman/Zuma Press

Musician and actor Levon Helm is in the "final stages of his battle with cancer," according to a message posted by his family on his official website.

"Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey," reads the message, signed by his wife and daughter. "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."

In addition to his work as drummer and vocalist with groundbreaking group The Band, Mr. Helm recorded solo albums in the late 1970s and early '80s as well as in recent years, and worked alongside Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, among others. His career as an actor saw him portray Loretta Lynn’s father in the film Coal Miners Daughter opposite Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones.

His 2011 live album, Ramble at the Ryman—recorded at the Nashville venue in 2008—won for Best Americana Album at this year's Grammy Awards. He had been scheduled to return to Nashville on May 6 to hold a "Ramble at the Ryman" concert at Ryman Auditorium, but that show has been postponed.

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