Robbie Robertson, guitarist and songwriter of The Band, dead at 80Aug 10, 2023
Legendary Canadian singer-
songwriterRobbie Robertson has died after a long illness. Robertson led the Canadian-American group to rock fame in the 1970s with hits such as The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up On Creek. Robertson also worked extensively with Bob Dylan. and Martin Scorsese and after the
band's farewell concert in 1976, The Last Waltz was captured on film by Scorsese. Robertson worked with the director as composer and music supervisor. Their long list of films together includes hits like Raging Bull The Color of Money The Departed and the Wolf. from Wall Street Robbie Robertson was 80 years old for more we have connected with Eric Alper he is a publicist and music commentator Erica this is very sad news for the world of music particularly here in Canada what is your reaction um shock sadness I mean this is This is one of the leaders of the greatest
bandin this country, without a doubt, the most influential band that this country has ever had, you know it when you review the list of artists who followed in the band's wake, from The Beatles, especially with George Harrison.
If you looked at photos of the Beatles when they were breaking up, they looked like members of the band, they wore brown suits and had long hair and beards up to Taylor Swift, in fact, her last two. Albums including Folklore and Evermore are directly influenced by the band's music and helped create an entirely new genre of music in terms of folk rock and American alternative. You know, with Robbie's ability to mix folk, rock and country music and take his influences um being in Canada um uh just amazing what he was able to create um and it's no wonder he ended up working in the film world since His songs were so full of very, very vivid images, narratives and emotions that fit perfectly into both the world of music and the world of film.
It's very interesting to hear you talk about the way he has influenced other musicians. I had the opportunity to interview him. It was probably six years ago. Seven years ago his testimony came out in his book and I remember it while he was speaking. It wasn't a dropper to him, but he talked quietly about those he had worked with and it wasn't just in the past, but he also talked about weekend artists that he admired, who were current and all that. Some of these artists, as you say, were influenced by him, but he did it quietly.
The band was kind of a silent influence. This wasn't, they didn't seem to be a group that had anything to do with fame, yeah, and you know. It's funny that you mentioned those artists that are around now because it's a little hard for you to go from the band to the weekend, well the fact of the matter is that because the band and especially Robbie Robertson are so willing to experimenting with so many different sounds, instruments and arrangements that he encouraged not only himself internally but the rest of the band, the rest of the music industry and the rest of the artistic world to embrace innovation so as not to be afraid. of using little pieces from here and here and here and that opens a door to a house that is you, you can't even imagine what it is sometimes it's never just in the details of the weight or the You know, or Dixie, it's The fact that How They Got Along, maybe it means a little more to these artists than you know, to be influenced by that string or that electric guitar.
You know, what I also found so interesting about Robbie Robertson is that where is his musical? The influence began here in Canada. He is from Toronto. He had family in six nations on the Grand River reservation. He speaks in the book about him and he spoke to us. We were talking about how when he was a kid he would go visit that family. The members saw that everyone could play music and as a child he couldn't, but then they realized how much music was in him and how, you know, the expression of Music in Six Nations really propelled him throughout his adult life. .
Yeah, it's something that a lot of indigenous artists talk about about people from Bucky St Marie to Tom Wilson and even someone like Gord Downey who may not have grown up on the reserve, but was absolutely influenced by our indigenous people and the culture, um , and it never leaves you, it's more of a matter of spirit, it's more of an influence not just in terms of composition or musical style or production, but it actually shapes your being as a human being and how you deal with people and how. creating those really compelling stories through music, how to tell and be able to hold up a mirror of who we are as people and who we are as a city of Toronto and a province and a country so different from the United States, but still able to like the rest of the world realizing what he was doing, yeah, he went from Toronto exactly, he went from being a family in the Six Nations to working with people like Martin Scorsese on films that probably have a lot of Canadians in them.
Who wouldn't have even realized that he was in The Wolf of Wall Street, one of the more recent films, but no less notable than Raging Bull, in terms of movies, and then there's The Last Waltz, which for Canadians more Young people may not realize what an influential work of film and music that was what you think it is if you can. What is the most notable thing about Robbie Robertson's career that Canadians may not know, but should know? You know what I'm going to do. It sounds really horrible. I just thought he was one of the coolest people on the planet.
I mean the way he behaved with the people he was with, from Eric Clapton to Bob Dylan, Martin and Van Morrison, the way he looked in the videos. In the '80s, 25 years after the band started here, he was with his own solo work getting five stars across the board in Rolling Stone, he was already in his late 30s, 40s and mid-40s and still He was the coolest person on the planet, there is no one. that I've ever been around Robbie to look at him from behind and see the reverence that people have for him and imagine for a moment what it would be like to be Robbie Robertson with that story behind you where you can't really do anything wrong.
Coming out with who you were with and producing Quality Music after album after album for so long is truly amazing, yes, someone with such calm confidence that she didn't need a bra, never needed to convey that only if you were in the know. who it was, we did it, we did it all for him, yeah, you just knew he was, he was the cool one from Canada. Eric alfer, thank you very much. Eric Alper is a publicist and music commentator speaking to us from Toronto.
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