Robbie Robertson has released a statement about his former bandmate Levon Helm, who is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Robertson and Helm began playing together as members of Ronnie Hawkins' backing group in the early 1960s. They became Bob Dylan's backing group in 1965, and three years later christened themselves the Band and began releasing their own music. Helm and Robertson haven't played together since the Band's Last Waltz concert in 1976.
Here is Robertson's complete statement:
Last week I was shocked and so saddened to hear that my old band mate, Levon, was in the final stages of his battle with cancer. It hit me really hard because I thought he had beaten throat cancer and had no idea that he was this ill. I spoke with his family and made arrangements to go and see him.
On Sunday I went to New York and visited him in the hospital. I sat with Levon for a good while, and thought of the incredible and beautiful times we had together. It was heartwarming to be greeted by his lovely daughter Amy, whom I have known since she was born. Amy’s mother, Libby Titus, and her husband, Donald Fagen, were so kind to help walk me through this terrible time of sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sandy.
Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I’ve ever known and very much like an older brother to me. I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever.