Robbie Robertson, the legendary guitarist for The Band, has passed away, according to a statement from his family that was shared by the group's social media. He was 80.
The Band broke the news to fans with a statement from the Robertson family that they shared via Facebook, "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 Centre."
hennemusic reports, One of the first Indigenous rock stars, Robertson was born in Toronto, ON and began playing in a series of groups before catching the attention of Ronnie Hawkins, who eventually brought the multi-talented teenage musician into his backing band, The Hawks, alongside drummer Levon Helm; a few short years later, the lineup included bassist Rick Danko from Simcoe, ON, pianist Richard Manuel from Stratford, ON and the classically-trained organist Garth Hudson from London, ON.
In 1964, the members of The Hawks branched out on their own, eventually as Levon And The Hawks, and their growing reputation led to a stint as Bob Dylan's backing band as the folk musician began a period of performing electric sets, which famously caused controversy amongst the hardcore folk community.
The Hawks began working with Dylan on new music at a rented house in upstate New York in 1967, which also inspired ideas for their own material, and it was these sessions which they would record the following year that led to the outfit's first studio album, 1968's "Music From Big Pink", under their new name The Band. Notably, the set's lead single, "The Weight", would gain traction and profile for the group when it was featured in the Easy Rider film.
The follow-up self-titled set arrived the following year, delivering more favorites like "Up On Cripple Creek", "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", and "Rag Mama Rag", earning The Band their first US Top 20 album.
More classic followed on 1970's "Stage Fright" and 1971's "Cahoots", while The Band would record with Dylan and perform a joint tour in support of his 1974 album, "Planet Waves."
As The Band grew weary of touring, they conceptualized and performed a farewell concert billed as The Last Waltz, which saw them joined by a huge cast of special guests at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, CA; it was filmed and directed by Martin Scorcese for theatrical release."
Learn more about Robertson's storied career and stream some of his songs here.