Robbie Robertson, founding guitarist of The Band, died on August 9 in Los Angeles. He was 80.
Born Jaime Robbie Robertson on July 5, 1974 in Toronto, he wrote some of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band’s most famous songs including “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” He performed at the legendary farewell concert memorialized in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz.
Robertson got his start at an early age with Ronnie Hawkins’ The Hawks. “The story of The Band began with Ronnie Hawkins. He was our mentor. He taught us the rules of the road. Ronnie Hawkins brought me down from Canada to the Mississippi delta when I was 16,” he said in his tribute to Ronnie. Robertson was Bob Dylan’s guitarist on his ‘66 “electric world tour.
The Band’s 1968 debut album Music from Big Pink, which featured “The Weight” and “I Shall Be Released,” made the U.S. Top 30 and went gold. In 1969, The Band played at Woodstock and also became the first North American rock group to appear on the cover of Time magazine. The group released the eponymous The Band the same year, their first Top 10 album reaching No. 9 on the Billboard 200. In 1973, The Band performed before the largest rock concert audience in history: the Watkins Glen Festival in New York.
Robertson would go on to have a solo career with the self-titled 1987 album and Storyville (1991). In more recent years, he collaborated with Scorcese again contributing soundtrack work on films such as The Wolf of Wall Street and Killers of the Flower Moon.
He is survived by his wife, Janet; his children, Alexandra, Sebastian, Delphine; grandchildren Angelica, Donovan, Dominic, Gabriel and Seraphina; and his ex-wife Dominique.
His manager Jared Levine’s full statement reads: