Sadly, I must report that the great Levon Helm is dying.
Helm's web site reported today (4/17) that the 71-year-old Grammy winner "is in the final stages of his battle with cancer."
Levon Helm was the only American member of the legendary act The Band, and many credit him for giving The Band their country-ish flavor in songs like "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down." Helm and Band front man Robbie Robertson had a bitter feud over songwriting credits after the group split in 1976, to the point where Helm refused to attend The Band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
After The Band Helm affiliated himself with the country and Americana music scene. He dabbled in acting, with his first role being Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter. His most recent three projects -- Dirt Farmer (featuring his version of the Carter Family's "Single Girl, Married Girl") in 2007, Electric Dirt in 2009, and Ramble at the Ryman from 2011, have all won Grammy awards.
On Saturday during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies Robertson sent "love and prayers" to his former bandmate. Helm's wife Sandy and daughter Amy requested that fans "send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey."