The Band Drummer Levon Helm Is in the "Final Stages" of Cancer

The 71-year-old played with Bob Dylan's backup band in the 1960s, and in recent years has won three Grammys for his solo efforts

Levon Helm, the legendary Grammy-winning drummer for The Band, is in the "final stages of his battle with cancer," his family announced late Tuesday on the musician's website.

"Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey," Helm's daughter Amy and wife Sandy wrote in the post. "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."

The drummer, 71, raised concerns about his health when he canceled a series of recent shows. The Band frontman, Robbie Robertson, offered up his "love and prayers" to Helm during his speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony over the weekend.

Helm was best known for his time alongside Robertson and three other musicians playing in Bob Dylan's backup band in the mid-1960s. They were later simply called The Band, and Helm contributed his drumming and vocal skills to hit recordings that include "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." The Band's last performance was in 1976, which Martin Scorsese filmed in his documentary film The Last Waltz.

The Band later reunited in 1983, but in the downtime Helm had pursued several solo opportunities. In 1989 he went on tour with Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band alongside Rick Danko, Joe Walsh, Dr. John, Nils Lofgren, Billy Preston, Clarence Clemons and Jim Keltner. He published his autobiography, This Wheel's on Fire, in 1993.

In recent years, Helm enjoyed a huge career renaissance. In 2007, he released his first studio album since 1982, Dirt Farmer, which won the 2008 Grammy for best traditional folk album. It was Helm's first Grammy, but it wouldn't be his last: His album Electric Dirt took the inaugural Grammy for best Americana album in 2010, and in 2011 he scored a repeat win in that category for the live album Ramble at the Ryman.

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