We’ve been and will continue to update this post with reactions from Levon’s friends, family, band mates and fans as well as any news on his condition.
We’re sad to report that the rumors making the rounds lately are true – our hero Levon Helm is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. His family has just released a statement…
[Photo by Parker Harrington]
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
Levon was one of the first artists we covered on Hidden Track and one of our favorites. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Helm was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 and underwent many radiation sessions to beat back the disease. The cancer hindered his singing voice, but Levon fought through it and went on to tour and play many Midnight Rambles at his home studio. The Band drummer was thought to be dealing with a back issue recently, though rumors started to spread last weekend that he was on “his deathbed.”
The lack of response from Levon’s camp gave us the feeling, along with longtime nemesis Robbie Robertson having a kind word for him at Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, that today’s announcement was coming.
UPDATE: Barbara O’Brien, Levon’s manager, has shared this note:
Thank you, all, for the outpouring of kindness and love. I know Levon is feeling it and that love will help guide him through this final journey. Thank you for your respect for his, Sandy’s and Amy’s privacy. YOU are truly people with class and Levon would think the world of you. The pain of knowing we’re going to lose him is almost too much for all of us to bear at the moment. But it can’t be about US. This is about honoring this great man’s dignity and privacy. Let’s send him off with love, positive energy, lots of light and words of support and comfort. Keep sending the great posts. I’m going to read them all to him. Thank you so, so much!
Also, Robbie Robertson has weighed in on his Facebook page…
Last week I was shocked and so saddened to hear that my old band mate, Levon, was in the final stages of his battle with cancer. It hit me really hard because I thought he had beaten throat cancer and had no idea that he was this ill. I spoke with his family and made arrangements to go and see him.
On Sunday I went to New York and visited him in the hospital. I sat with Levon for a good while, and thought of the incredible and beautiful times we had together. It was heartwarming to be greeted by his lovely daughter Amy, whom I have known since she was born. Amy’s mother, Libby Titus, and her husband, Donald Fagen, were so kind to help walk me through this terrible time of sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sandy.
Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I’ve ever known and very much like an older brother to me. I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever.
As has The Band’s Garth Hudson…
I am too sad for words right now. Please continue praying for Levon and family.
Reactions have come in from around the musical world…
Put on The Band..turn it up LOUD..listen to it with happiness that we got to exist in the same time as Levon Helm..even if for just a while
— Jeffrey Austin (@Jeffreyaustin10) April 17, 2012
Levon Helm, a king among men.. Just read the sad news about his illness x
— Lisa Hannigan (@LisaHannigan) April 17, 2012
Opening for Levon Helm was one of the great honors of my musical life. The thrill of just shaking his hand has never gone away.
— Okkervil River (@okkervilriver) April 17, 2012
— Deer Tick (@deertickmusic) April 17, 2012
Sending love, prayers and good vibes to Levon Helm.
— Nicole Atkins (@NicoleAtkins) April 17, 2012
If you're not familiar with Levon Helm, watch this from "The Last Waltz." The Band at their best http://t.co/vEQIQMXU
— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) April 17, 2012
Sending love and prayers to Levon Helm http://t.co/a0MDYIKa
— The Bowery Presents (@bowerypresents) April 17, 2012
— Old Town School (@oldtownschool) April 17, 2012
May Levon Helm's journey be a gentle one…
— BeyondBeyondisBeyond (@BBiB) April 17, 2012
Levon Helm looking to the Heavens. http://t.co/C6Gz7Rvr
— Parkerjam (@tmwsiy) April 17, 2012
Thinking of Levon Helm. One of the Band's underrated gems, "Acadian Driftwood." http://t.co/r8AX9sgI
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) April 17, 2012
Hopefully this sad news will get Garth Hudson to open his vaults and release the rumored treasure trove of Levon & the Hawks recordings.
— The War on Drugs (@TheWarOnDrugs) April 17, 2012
Na, na na na na na na, na na na na na na, na na na na na na #levon
— Scott Bernstein (@heyscottyb) April 17, 2012
Thoughts are with Levon and his family and friends @LevonHelmRamble
— AK (@andhecon) April 17, 2012
My thoughts & prayers go out to Levon Helm & his family.
— Slash (@Slash) April 17, 2012
All my love to Levon helm
— Flea (@flea333) April 17, 2012
— Scott Bernstein (@scott_bernstein) April 17, 2012
Safe journey, Levon. Long may you ramble.
— W y l l y s (@originalwyllys) April 17, 2012
Life doesn't get much more beautiful than it is when Levon's singing. Best wishes to him and his family. #levonhelm
— Guy Forget (@GuyForgetOPT) April 17, 2012
Levon Helm's May 6 show has been canceled. Our thoughts + prayers are with the Helm family during this difficult time. http://t.co/dVv2GRka
— Ryman Auditorium (@TheRyman) April 17, 2012
Watching John Convertino play drums while I mourn Levon Helm. Seems right. So sad..
— Neko Case (@NekoCase) April 17, 2012
ALSO! Levon Helm is a GREAT actor. Not enough people saw "The 3 burials of Melquiades Estrada". Tommy Lee Jones, Melissa Leo, @DwightYoakam
— Neko Case (@NekoCase) April 18, 2012
RT @NekoCase: It's nearly impossible to sing so smoothly and hit that hard at the same time. I love your lungs, Levon.
— Mike Gordon (@mike_gordon) April 18, 2012
an honest & classic voice, unmistakable back beat & pervasive smile – you are in our thoughts and prayers, Levon http://t.co/3tbYSLoo
— Bonnaroo (@Bonnaroo) April 17, 2012
— Greg Seitz (@gregseitz) April 17, 2012
We love you Levon.
— Megafaun (@Megafaun) April 17, 2012
RT @NekoCase Send all your nice thoughts to Levon Helm, just in case you haven't yet. // On it: no one in this or any world like him.
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) April 17, 2012
Levon Helm in our hearts
— Edward Sharpe (@EdwardSharpe) April 17, 2012
Our thoughts & prayers go out to Levon, one of the greatest drummers, singers, & individuals of all time. A profound influence on me&theNocs
— Grace Potter (@gracepotter) April 17, 2012
Levon is in his last stages…
— Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) April 18, 2012
Levon Helm is losing his battle against cancer. Words can't express how much he has influenced the direction of… http://t.co/sjWacBgZ
— The Wallflowers (@TheWallflowers) April 17, 2012
How can God be ready to take Levon Helm and Justin Bieber is still going strong? Dick move, Big Guy. Dick move.
— Kris Logsdon (@kristopherRL) April 17, 2012
Love you Levon…
— jennylewis (@jennylewis) April 18, 2012
Levon Helm is knocking on Heaven's Door. Light his way with your prayers. http://t.co/P6wL0CqU
— John Perry Barlow (@JPBarlow) April 18, 2012
I'm at a loss for words about Levon Helm. You'll live on forever in our hearts. Love you Levon.
— hayescarll (@hayescarll) April 17, 2012
Sending well wishes and healing thoughts to the great Levon Helm and his family right now.
— jim james (@jimjames) April 18, 2012
Levon Helm – Our most positive vibrations go out to Levon Helm who is battling cancer in a most serious way…. http://t.co/7EtwB7hv
— Band of Horses (@bandofhorses) April 18, 2012
I'm singing for Levon tonight.
— Grace Potter (@gracepotter) April 18, 2012
damn.was going to play the ramble this weekend.thought i'd get to see levon again.i feel lucky to have brushed up against this great elder.
— dred scott (@dredscott666) April 18, 2012
Prayers for the Great Levon Helm. In 'Final Stages' of Cancer http://t.co/OaYEKrOx
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) April 18, 2012
@JoeNBC Carmen and the devil, walkin' side by side…
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) April 18, 2012
@pgammo In the winter of '65, we were hungry just a barely alive…It was a time I remember oh so well.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) April 18, 2012
@JoeNBC The Last Waltz remains one of the 25 greatest films ever made.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) April 18, 2012
Ramblin' at Levon's, July 2010. http://t.co/OKKbHXnv
— Grahame Lesh (@grahamelesh) April 18, 2012
My thoughts are with the great Levon Helm today.
— colin meloy (@colinmeloy) April 18, 2012
Last week I was shocked and so saddened to hear that my old band mate, Levon, was in the final stages of his… http://t.co/beXVuEQp
— Robbie Robertson (@r0bbier0berts0n) April 18, 2012
Had the distinct honor of lighting the Levon Helm Band in 2008 and being swept up in the majesty of some of my favorite songs. Love to Levon
— jeffersonwaful (@jeffersonwaful) April 18, 2012
Thinking an awful lot about Levon Helm today.. Grateful to have experienced many a Ramble. Heartbroken for his family..
— Julia Mordaunt (@juliamordaunt) April 18, 2012
Levon, you are the best of the best…your rhythms are filled with love, power, kindness, your groove is in my heart forever.
— Mickey Hart (@mickeyhart) April 18, 2012
Levon Helm, you're such a beacon of endurance and tenacity. My thoughts, prayers and love go out to you and your… http://t.co/GVQpbIlL
— Stanton Moore (@Stanton_Moore) April 18, 2012
Al and Vin share thoughts about fellow musician Levon Helm: "Not only is Levon an influence to my playing and me… http://t.co/VZu8pPJa
— moe. (@moeperiod) April 18, 2012
Very sad about Levon Helm. Truly one of the greats. Thanks Levon.
— matchboxtwenty (@MatchboxTwenty) April 18, 2012
— Gavin Glass (@GavinGlassMusic) April 18, 2012
— Glen Hansard (@Glen_Hansard) April 18, 2012
We love ya,L. Helm…prayers r with ya,gypsy minstrel!!!
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) April 18, 2012
— FillmoreSilverSpring (@FillmoreSS) April 18, 2012
— Timothy Carbone (@timcarbone) April 18, 2012
— rosanne cash (@rosannecash) April 18, 2012
Learn from Levon and Robbie. Don't wait until "the end" to make peace with those who you love but did you/you've done wrong
— Scott Bernstein (@heyscottyb) April 18, 2012
[Note: We’ll update this post with more reactions as they come in.]