A short message posted on the musician’s Web site
, from his family said that Helm, the 71-year-old drummer and backbone of The Band, was in the final stages of his battle with cancer.
"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."
The family also had a simple request.
"Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey," the message said.
And they did.
Outpouring of kindness and love
By noon Wednesday, more than 10,000 comments
were posted throughout Facebook.
“When I had the privilege to feel your energy at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival … You rocked my world,” Courtney Anne Steeves said. “Keep on shining.”
Helm was also a role model.
"Levon, you're music meant everything to me, you're the reason i'm a drummer, a mandolin player and a musician," said Conner Rush Molnar Boden. "You're music speaks better than any words. You'll be remembered forever as one of the greatest men to ever live. Thank you everything Levon, i'll miss you."
And that smile. It's one of the common threads that permeated comments.
Francess Jaen wrote that Helm's "music and book inspired me more than i can say. when i was lucky enough to watch him play at a ramble i was mesmorized by the biggest grin i've ever seen on a man, i will always think about this! thanks Levon."
"Thank you for great songs and perfomances. I will never forget your voice, your groove and your smile. God bless you," Takashi Tim Hatsukade shared.
In 1998, Helm's famous voice with the "rich southern nuances" was silenced to a whisper after receiving a diagnosis of throat cancer. But that didn't stop him, according to a bio on his website
, from still playing "the drums, mandolin and harmonica, often performing with his daughter, Amy Helm, also a vocalist and instrumentalist."
When Levon began singing again, he started what he called "The Midnight Ramble Sessions", a series of intimate live performances at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY.
According to CBS
news, Helm's 2007 solo album, "Dirt Farmer," and 2009's "Electric Dirt" both won Grammys.
Helm has been on the road lately with The Levon Helm Band, but was recently forced to cancel some shows, including an appearance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival later this month, CBS writes.
Helm's voice could be heard on such classics as "The Weight," "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." CBS reports that Helm was also part of The Band's critically-acclaimed 1976 farewell concert, "The Last Waltz," which was filmed by director Martin Scorsese.
Let's send him off with love
All in all, fans just wanted Helm to be embraced with the love that he so willingly gave to them in his career.
"His voice got me through some mighty hard times," posted Dianne Estrada Randazzo Brooke, "my all our love help him (and you) through yours! Xoxoxoxoxo"
"Thank you, Mr. Helm, for making your music such a ray of light in this dark world,"said Charles E Kuykendall. "I wish I could give back to you just a fraction of what you've given to me."
Its sounds as though that's exactly what's happening. An updated message
on Helm's Face book said:
Thank you, all, for the outpouring of kindness and love. I know Levon is feeling it and that love will help guide him through this final journey.
Thank you for your respect for his, Sandy's and Amy's privacy. YOU are truly people with class and Levon would think the world of you. The pain of knowing we're going to lose him is almost too much for all of us to bear at the moment. But it can't be about US. This is about honoring this great man's dignity and privacy.
Let's send him off with love, positive energy, lots of light and words of support and comfort. Keep sending the great posts. I'm going to read them all to him. Thank you so, so much!