Levon Helm, 71, the longtime drummer of The Band, is nearing the end of his battle with cancer, according to the New York Daily News. "Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer," read a message posted by Helm's wife, Sandy, and daughter Amy to his web site. "Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey."

The message, which has shocked fans and saddened colleagues, looks back on Helm's long and successful career, which recently included a Grammy Award for his 2011 solo release, Ramble at the Ryman. "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."

Robbie Robertson, former frontman of The Band, sent "love and prayers" to Helm during a speech this past weekend at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

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