Musician Levon Helm near death, family says

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Levon Helm in 2009.
  • RON BAKER/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Levon Helm in 2009.
Yesterday the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival announced Levon Helm would not be playing this year's Jazz Fest. Today, Helm's family has issued a statement:

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.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy

In a speech April 14 at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Helm's friend (and Band bandmate) Robbie Robertson sent "love and prayers" to Helm, but did not elaborate.

As a solo performer and original member of The Band, Helm had a long history with New Orleans. His song "King Fish" celebrated Huey Long, and in 1998 Helm opened Levon Helm's Classic American Cafe, a short-lived music club, on Decatur Street in the French Quarter.

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