Karen Ocamb

The Band's Levon Helm Near Death

Filed By Karen Ocamb | April 19, 2012 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, living legends, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Weight

E! Online reports that Levon Helm, 71, Levon-Helm-.jpegdrummer and singer with the legendary group The Band,

"is in the final stages of his battle with cancer," according to a note posted on his website by his wife and daughter.

"Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey," the note reads. "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."

Helm named the group The Band because that's how they were known when they backed up so many frontmen, including, most famously, Bob Dylan. In 1968, they released their own album and became influential through such hits as "The Weight" and Helm's solo piece, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." The group broke up in 1976 - a major musical event that seemed to underscore the end to the counter-cultural movement of the 19060s and early 1970s. The final farewell concert was captured in Martin Scorsese's film The Last Waltz. I am not able to embed the extraordinary song "The Weight" with Helm singing with the legendary Staple Singers - so please click here and watch it on YouTube. But here is one of the closing songs from The Last Waltz - Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" that should give you some sense of what that era was like. See how many folks you recognize on that stage.

Video after the break.

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