Levon Helm lost his battle with cancer on Thursday past. He was a unique player on the rock, country, and folk landscape. Helm achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band. His soulful voice was cultivated in the cotton fields of Arkansas, a stones throw from the Mississippi River.
In the late 90s, Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer causing severe hoarseness and was advised to undergo a laryngectomy. Instead, Helm opted for a tedious regimen of radiation treatments at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The tumor was successfully removed but Helm’s vocal cords were damaged. His powerful tenor voice was replaced by a quiet rasp.
Helm’s narration and performance in The Right Stuff.
On April 17, 2012, his wife and daughter announced on Helm’s website that he was “in the final stages of his battle with cancer” and thanked fans while requesting prayers. Two days later, Helm died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.