Former bandmates Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm have had a strained relationship since the Band’s original lineup dissolved in 1976. Helm was critical of Robertson in his autobiography, This Wheel’s On Fire, claiming that the guitarist took undue credit for writing certain Band songs, when they were in fact a group effort. The acrimony prevented the two musicians from performing together for over 35 years. However, in a 2011 interview, Robertson told American Songwriter that he would be open to collaborating with Helm again.
Yesterday, the news broke that Helm, who survived a bout with throat cancer in the late ’90s, is in the final stages of his battle with cancer.
Today, Robertson posted the following message on his Facebook page:
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.