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The Band's Levon Helm dying of throat cancer

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 18th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Musician Levon Helm, perhaps best known for the lead vocals on "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" with The Band is in the final stages of his battle with throat cancer. The family of the 71-year-old musician reported on his web site that "Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey," the statement said.

Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998. While his voice had been reduced to a whisper, he still continued to sing on albums and at rollicking concerts at his Woodstock home.

Helm was a key member of The Band and lent his distinctive Southern voice to classics like "The Weight." Helm, along with the other original members of The Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Helm is one of the group's three remaining members, along with Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson, out of The Band's lineup.

Richard Manuel committed suicide in 1986, a decade after the original group's last tour, immortalized by Martin Scorsese in the documentary "The Last Waltz," and Rick Danko died in his sleep in 1999.

Through it all, Helm kept making music -- and winning awards -- until very recently, when his illness forced him to cancel performances slated for this month.

Helm topped four other nominees to win the Best Americana Album at the 2012 Grammys, an honor he also took in 2010. The American Music Awards presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing in 2003 and in 2008 made him its Artist of the Year.

Helm also had a notable film career that spanned decades. He's probably best-known for playing Loretta Lynn's father in the film "Coal Miner's Daughter," and also appeared in "The Right Stuff" and "Feeling Minnesota."

Robertson offered his "prayers and love" to his former band mate at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland.

Helm's wife Sandy, Along with daughter Amy said on his site that Helm "has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance!"

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