R.I.P. Robbie Robertson

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Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson, famed for his work in legendary group The Band, has died. He was 80 years old.

Robertson’s manager Jared Levine said in a statement, “Robbie was surrounded by his family at the time of his death, including his wife, Janet, his ex-wife, Dominique, her partner Nicholas, and his children Alexandra, Sebastian, Delphine, and Delphine’s partner Kenny. He is also survived by his grandchildren Angelica, Donovan, Dominic, Gabriel and Seraphina. Robertson recently completed his fourteenth film music project with frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Six Nations of the Grand River to support a new Woodland Cultural Center.”

A native of Toronto, Canada, Robertson grew up learning music from his mother’s family, who were Mohawk and lived on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve. As a teenager, he met Ronnie Hawkins and joined his group the Hawks, alongside Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson.

Robertson left the group along with Helm, Danko, Manuel and Hudson in the mid-’60s and backed Bob Dylan for his 1965 Newport Folk Festival set, and officially formed The Band in 1967. While they backed Dylan in Woodstock, New York, that year, they rented a house in Saugerties they named “Big Pink,” and which also lent its name to their debut album, Music from Big Pink, which found them combining folk music with elements of the rock ‘n’ roll sound they had played with The Hawks. During that same period, they also recorded the songs that would later be released on The Basement Tapes with Bob Dylan.

The group’s first three albums, which also included 1969’s The Band and 1970’s Stage Fright, were successful both critically and commercially. The group released three more albums before calling it quits, playing their final show on Thanksgiving of 1976, which was documented in the film The Last Waltz, as well as the live album of the same name.

Robertson began a solo career in the early 1980s, first with the soundtrack for Carny, before releasing his 1987 debut. He’d release five studio albums during his career, as well as also soundtracking Music for the Native Americans. He also worked with Tom Petty, Neil Diamond and Ringo Starr, and maintained a working relationship with The Last Waltz director Martin Scorsese, contributing music to several of his films, including Killers of the Flower Moon, which is due later this year.

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