Robbie Robertson, an Iconic Guitarist, leader of The Band, dies at 80

Robbie RobertsoN 1943 2023

Robbie Robertson, the iconic guitarist of The Band, has sadly passed away at the age of 80.

640px Robbie Robertson 1971
Robbie Robertson in 1971

Robbie Robertson was a celebrated Canadian musician, songwriter, film composer, producer, actor, and author.

Best known as the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for The Band, Robertson’s career has spanned several decades and has left a significant mark on the world of rock music.

Here’s a brief overview of his illustrious career.

Early Life and the Hawks

Born on July 5, 1943, in Toronto, Ontario, Robertson began his music career playing in various groups around Toronto.

By the early 1960s, he joined Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band, the Hawks.

The Band

After parting ways with Hawkins, the Hawks morphed into The Band, with Robertson playing alongside Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson.

They became renowned for their unique sound, which blended rock, folk, and Americana.

Some of their most iconic albums include “Music from Big Pink” (1968) and “The Band” (1969). Songs like “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek” remain classics. They played at Woodstock Festival in 1969.

Robbie Robertson’s Work with Bob Dylan

Robertson and The Band collaborated extensively with Bob Dylan, most notably during Dylan’s controversial transition from folk to electric rock.

They also backed Dylan on his famous “Basement Tapes” and joined him on the 1974 tour.

Robbie Robertson’s Solo Career

After The Band’s “Last Waltz” concert in 1976 (which was made into a documentary film by Martin Scorsese), Robertson embarked on a solo career.

He released several albums over the years, showcasing his versatile guitar skills and captivating songwriting abilities on songs like Broken Arrow or Somewhere Down The Crazy River.

Robbie Robertson’s Film Work

Robbie Robertson has also been involved in the world of cinema.

Apart from “The Last Waltz,” he has collaborated with Martin Scorsese on multiple occasions, contributing music to films like “Raging Bull”, “The Color of Money”, “Casino” and “The Irishman“, released by Netflix in 2019.


In 2016, Robertson penned a memoir titled “Testimony,” which provides an in-depth look at his life and career, especially his time with The Band.

Robbie Robertson’s Awards and Recognition

Throughout his career, Robertson has received numerous awards and honors, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of The Band) and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

He has also received the Order of Canada.

Robbie Robertson’s influence on rock and popular music is undeniable.

His distinctive guitar work, evocative songwriting, and contributions to the sound of The Band have made him a legendary figure in music history.

Rest in power, Robbie.

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