August 15th, 2009
01:46 AM ET

Lit drummer dies of brain cancer

On Thursday, the drummer from the rock band Lit lost his valiant battle with brain cancer.  Allen Shellenberger was 39.


In May 2008, Shellenberger was diagnosed with a Stage 4 malignant brain tumor.  It was inoperable, but he immediately underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as experimental therapy at Cedars-Sinai.

He was often driven from Orange County to his doctor's appointments in L.A. by Kevin Baldes, Lit's bass guitarist and acting nurse - who would dole out medication Allen's mother had arranged in tiny Ziploc baggies with Post-Its on them.  Allen never wanted to know how bad his prognosis was, and his bandmates never discussed it with him.

Allen played his last gig with Lit when they shared a bill with Sugar Ray and Everclear last fall.  He played the entire set, even though No Doubt's Adrian Young was backstage and ready to step in should his friend falter.

Allen was kind enough to let CNN accompany him on a doctor's visit last year.  He had lost weight, and his face was puffy from the steroids.  The rest of Lit was there: Kevin, as well as brothers Jeremy and A. Jay Popoff.  But in reality, all four thought of themselves as brothers, and at the end of our interview, Allen removed his shirt to reveal a new tattoo on his back - a sacred heart with a banner that read, "Family and Friends."  Those family members and friends were with him Thursday when he took his last breath.

Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray gave us this statement:

"Allen was a great drummer, but more importantly a great human being.  His courage and positive outlook during his battle with cancer was an inspiration to us all.  He will be missed dearly by a music community he helped enrich, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and my friends in LIT."

Adrian Young of No Doubt had this to say:

"We're deeply saddened by Allen's passing.  It's a difficult moment but we take comfort in remembering how much he loved being in Lit, loved being a drummer and that he saw his rock'n'roll dreams come true.  Our thoughts are with his family, bandmates and loved ones."

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soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. mal22

    This has been a summer of many deaths, besides John Hughes... Rest In Peace Allen.

    August 20, 2009 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Linda

    RIP Allen. My thoughts are with your family.

    August 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lanie Rose

    We who are involved in support for brain tumor research can't help but notice the increase of its incidence among young adults, particularly bright and talented ones. Allen is one of those who had so much to contribute yet died much too young. Brain cancer is under-recognized and underfunded. Survival time has been extended in some cases, but the prognosis basically remains the same as 50 years ago. May his memory be a blessing.

    August 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dennis Bagwell (Fire in the Hole) O.C.

    So very sorry to hear of Allen's untimely passing. What a tremendous blow to his family and his band mates. My deepest condolences. Lit is a great band and I suspect they will keep it "Lit" in memory of him. May he be in Heaven an hour before the Devil knows he's dead.

    August 17, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. laura

    i'm so sad! i love lit...and heard the news on the radio today. rest in peace, allen. and to the rest of lit, sugar ray, no doubt, everclear–my favorite 90s bands–thank you for taking good care of allen in his toughest days. thoughts of love go out to his family...

    August 17, 2009 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Delia

    I am saddened to hear of Allen's passing. He was a wonderful person and an awsome drummer & performer! My most sincere condolences are extended to his family, bandmates and friends.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. Phil

    So sad to hear about the passing of someone who played the soundtrack to so many of our good times. Allen's music will always remain for us, as will the inspiration of a man who was not only courageous enough to battle cancer, but courageous enough to live his dream long before this. Something to think about, if only for a moment, whenever we hear one of Allen's great songs.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cellphones Kill

    CELLPHONES are the reason why so many young people are dying these days from brain cancer. Throw them away, and go back to only answering the phone when you're at home, like in the old days. Apart from contributing to the breakdown of civilized society in which people actually MEET each other to talk, cellphones are very bad for your health – and your bank account. You used to manage just fine before them, so you don't need them.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    Didn't like their generic modern rock music but sad to see someone go so young.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. Shawn

    R.I.P. Allen Shellenberger
    My prays are with you and your family and friends.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Gerry.L.


    August 17, 2009 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Christine

    wow. this is just so sad. I had met allen at a gig when lit was just hitting it big. He was an awesome guy. Nice, friendly, and seem to really care about the bands fans.

    May he rest in peace. my thoughts and prays go out to his family and band mates!

    August 17, 2009 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Eric

    Oh... wow... man, life's too short nowadays. His music was very good and he'll be missed. RIP.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. m1ch83l

    ...only the good die young...RIP.

    August 17, 2009 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Don

    I just lost a nephew to brain cancer. It is unbearable to watch someone you love die a slow death. So many young people dying of brain cancer. What's going on? Why so many? My nephew Matt had just turned twenty-two.

    August 17, 2009 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  16. Al

    You lived out your dream Allen. Good for you. That's more can people say in a lifetime. God bless. I'm sure you are playing with the rockbands in heaven. My condlences to your friends and family.

    August 17, 2009 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  17. Midwest

    beaver88 has it right. Lit should be getting much more airplay than it ever has.

    August 16, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  18. beaver88

    A Place in the Sun...Thank you ALLEN,thank you LIT,for playing those songs even when you said were tired of doing so...may you rest in peace Allen...HEY RADIO...ALL ACROSS THE NATION>>play some LIT today,instead of the same ol crap clearchannel makes you cram down our throats everyday......PLAY IT!!!

    August 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Donna

    It's terrible when anyone dies from something so completely out of their control, but when they are so young it's that much more tragic. God bless him, his family, and his loving friends.

    August 16, 2009 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  20. Midwest

    I was just wondering how Allen was doing as I saw the news reports last year about his condition.

    I have several Lit CDs and hearing about Allen's diagnosis saddened me, not just because I like the music, but because the camaraderie between his band mates was so strong and their love for one another was obvious.

    I never knew Allen or any of the band but their deep friendship and respect for one another on a human level was an inspiration. They stood by him and supported him throughout his battle and through to his untimely passing.

    It is my hope that the remaining band members use their visibility and reach to raise money for research and awareness about the scourge of cancer and to hopefully, help stave off even one more death of such vital and deeply loved people.

    August 16, 2009 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  21. Patricia

    Sorry to hear of the loss of such a young talented man. I lost my brother in law to brain stem cancer – diagnosed in November, dead by December. He was young, too. Heart-breaking.

    August 16, 2009 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  22. cat

    He was brave and valiant, with a true spark for life. He will be missed but the music will always be there for us.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Lunagypsystars

    My condolences to the friends and family. R.I.P., Allen Shellenberger.

    August 15, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |

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