Robbie Robertson, the frontman for the classic rock group The Band, died Wednesday at the age of 80 in Los Angeles.
His manager of 34 years, Jared Levine, issued a statement in Variety revealing that Robertson’s death came at the end of a long illness. sources have reported TMZ that the musician succumbed to prostate cancer.
Some of the most beloved songs he wrote for The Band include The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up On Ripple Creek, and The Weight.
When Robertson’s longtime friend Bob Dylan went electric in the 1960s, it was The Band who lent him their support on stage.
Robertson also enjoyed a long professional relationship with Martin Scorsese, first with The Band and then as a solo composer on a series of the filmmaker’s classics.
Dear Departed: Robbie Robertson, the frontman for the classic rock group The Band, died at the age of 80 in Los Angeles on Wednesday
Icon: Some of the most beloved songs he wrote for The Band include The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up On Ripple Creek, and The Weight; pictured in 1971
“Robbie was surrounded by his family at the time of his death, including his wife, Janet, his ex-wife, Dominique, his partner Nicholas, and their children Alexandra, Sebastian, Delphine, and Delphine’s partner, Kenny,” the statement said. your manager. .
“He is also survived by his grandchildren Angelica, Donovan, Dominic, Gabriel and Seraphina,” Levine added. “Robertson recently completed his fourteenth film music project with frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon.”
With a first-rate cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, Killers Of The Flower Moon follows a plan by white Americans to seize oil that the Osage Indians have discovered on their land.
“In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to Six Nations of the Grand River to support the construction of their new cultural center,” Levine said.
Robertson was born in Toronto in 1943 to a mother who grew up on Canada’s Six Nations Reserve, being of Mohawk and Cayuga descent.
During his own childhood visits to his maternal family on the reservation, Robertson quickly acquired an abiding taste for music.
‘It seemed to me that everyone played a musical instrument or sang or danced. I thought: “I have to get into this club!”, he said to the guardian.
His instrument of choice was the guitar, which he thought looked “pretty cool”, and his mother gave him one with a painting of a cowboy on it.
“I thought it was very ironic that the Indians taught me to play the guitar in the image of a cowboy,” Robertson recalled dryly.
During his teenage years, he began working on the fringes of the entertainment industry, working at traveling carnivals and even at a freak show.
By the age of 15 he had joined Toronto’s burgeoning rock scene, and in 1958 he helped form the group that became The Band.
Under their original name, The Hawks, they endorsed Ronnie Hawkins, the rockabilly stalwart who died last year at the age of 87.
They became The Band in 1967, having backed Bob Dylan on his furiously polarizing electric tour.
A lasting friendship formed between Dylan and Robertson, as recounted in the latter’s memoir Testimony, in which he writes about them taking drugs together and mingling with an artistic social circle ranging from the Beatles to Salvador Dalí.
Robertson even had to save Dylan’s life once – the folk legend was once so dead to the world that he nearly drowned in the bath, only for Robertson to drag him out.
After Dylan’s divisive tour, the Hawks became The Band and released a self-titled album containing some of their best-known songs to date.
Although no stranger to drugs, Robertson managed to avoid the heroin problem that plagued his bandmates as his rise to fame continued.
However, he was unable to evade a bitter dispute with The Band’s drummer Levon Helm, which stemmed from a dispute over copyright issues and songwriting credits.
Ultimately, the tensions that flared between the musicians over the drugs and business side of their relationship became insurmountable.
In 1976, six years after appearing on the cover of Time magazine, the band played their iconic farewell show The Last Waltz at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom.
It was this famous concert that marked the birth of Robertson’s relationship with Martin Scorsese, who filmed the concert for a highly acclaimed rock documentary.
According to Helm, Robertson, whose decision it was to break up the band, was so pale with exhaustion that his wife had to do his makeup for the camera.
Robertson eventually parted ways with the band, but he maintained his professional connection to Scorsese as a composer for several of his films.
Fan favorites like Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, and The Wolf Of Wall Street featured original music by Robertson, as did lesser-known features like Silence.