Levon Helm Dies Of Throat Cancer

UPDATE: The founding drummer for The Band, Levon Helm died today following a long battle with throat cancer.

“Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon,” Barbara O’Brien, Helm’s manager, said in a statement. “He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul.”

Helm was originally diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998. In the initial stages of his treatment, Helm – equally renowned for his singing and drumming – lost his voice, which he later regained. But the costs of battling the disease nearly cost Helm his house in Woodstock, New York, until he converted his barn into a concert venue where he staged weekly performances, which raised enough money to pay his mortgage.

ORIGINAL REPORT: We just learned the sad news that the drummer, songwriter, and singer Levon Helm, who made his name with The Band and Bob Dylan before forging a celebrated solo career as both a musician and actor, is close to death after battling cancer.

The Americana Music Association has released the contents of the following email received yesterday from the 71-year-old’s wife Sandy and daughter Amy. Here’s what they wrote:

“Dear Friends. 
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.”