The music and entertainment worlds mourn Robbie Robertson as a legend – GoldDerby


The death on Wednesday of Robbie Robertson, the legendary 80-year-old founding guitarist for The Band who wrote many of the iconic group’s most famous songs – including “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” – spurred friends, fans and peers to remember his remarkable talent and the considerable mark Robertson left on the worlds of music and film.

Heading that list is a fellow named Martin Scorsese, who memorialized The Band’s farewell in his seminal 1978 concert documentary “The Last Waltz.” Scorsese also collaborated with Robertson on the music for some 14 of the filmmaker’s projects over the past several decades, including “Raging Bull,” “Casino,” “Gangs of New York,” “The King of Comedy,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “The Irishman” and the forthcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

In a statement released this afternoon, Scorsese said, “Robbie Robertson was one of my closest friends, a constant in my life and my work. I could always go to him as a confidante. A collaborator. An advisor. I tried to be the same for him.

“Long before we ever met,” Scorsese’s statement went on, “his music played a central role in my life – me and millions and millions of other people all over this world.  The Band’s music, and Robbie’s own later solo music, seemed to come from the deepest place at the heart of this continent, its traditions and tragedies and joys. It goes without saying that he was a giant, that his effect on the art form was profound and lasting.

“There’s never enough time with anyone you love. And I loved Robbie.”

Robertson was a five-time Grammy nominee, among them noms for the “Gangs of New York” soundtrack in 2004 and the “Wolf of Wall Street” soundtrack in 2015. He was also nominated for Emmys twice, both coming in 1995 for his music documentary “Robbie Robertson: Going Home.” He never earned an Academy Award bid, but that could change next year for his work on Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” score. It was Robertson’s final film music collaboration with Scorsese, and since it was all original, it could qualify him for a posthumous honor. “Flower Moon” is being released in theaters on October 6.

Born Jaime Royal Robertson in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 5, in 1943, Robertson had roots in both the Mohawk community at the Six Nations Reserve and the Jewish enclave of the city’s downtown. He began playing the guitar at 10 and in 1960, at 16, he joined drummer Levon Helm in the Hawks, the backing band for rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins. His unique guitar style on tunes like “Who Do You Love” ushered in an era of classic blues-y rock that influenced a generation of musicians.

The tributes poured in mourning Robertson on Wednesday.

“Canada has lost an icon, and music has lost a poet and a scholar,” actor and musician Kiefer Sutherland wrote on X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter.

Singer-songwriter Neil Diamond, also writing on X, said, “The music world has lost a great one. Keep making that Beautiful Noise in the sky, Robbie. I’ll miss you.”

Canadian rock musician Bryan Adams also posted on Wednesday, “RIP Robbie Robertson. Thanks for the amazing music and the great hangs, especially photographing you in L.A. not so long ago.

“So sorry to hear about Robbie Robertson’s passing,” wrote filmmaker Rob Reiner. “His music felt timeless when he wrote it and remains timeless.”

Said musician Stephen Stills on X: “Always kind and generous. Rest in peace, Robbie Robertson.”

Added entertainment magnate David Geffen, in a statement: “Robbie was a great guitarist, a great songwriter, and a great friend. I was in awe of his talent from the first moment I heard him play. His musical genius reshaped the rock and roll scene and the sound of the 1970’s and well beyond. His innovation and impact will continue to be felt and heard in music and cinema long after his passing. Robbie’s death is a tremendous loss, especially to his family whom he dearly loved, the music world, and really to everyone who ever knew him. Like so many people around the world, I will grieve today, and I will miss him tomorrow and each day thereafter.”

Stevie Van Zandt, the E Street Band guitarist and regular on “The Sopranos,” called Robertson “a good friend and a genius.” Writing on X, he added, “The Band’s music shocked the excess out of the Renaissance and were an essential part of the final back-to-the-roots trend of ’60s. He was an underrated brilliant guitar player, adding greatly to Bob Dylan’s best your & best album.”

As a member of the Hawks, Robertson played with Dylan on his legendary electric tours in 1965 and ’66. Moving to Woodstock in 1967, Robertson and his bandmates recorded the seminal “basement tapes” with Dylan before changing their name to The Band and releasing the groundbreaking “Music from Big Pink” album in ’68. The album marked a watershed in rock history, featuring the Robertson-penned classic “The Weight.”

The Band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Robertson’s death leaves Garth Hudson as the lone survivor of the original quintet.

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