The musician Robbie Robertson, guitarist and main composer in the legendary rock group The Band, has died this Wednesday at the age of 80 in Los Angeles after “a long illness”, according to his representative. “Robbie was surrounded by his family at the time of his death,” the statement said. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to support a new cultural center. The Canadian-American group is known for songs like The Weight and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and for having accompanied Bob Dylan on his tours between 1965 and 1966.
Originally the group was called The Hawks. It was in that first stage when they accompanied Ronnie Hawkins and stood out for also being Bob Dylan’s band on his Going Electric tours between 1965 and 1966. After changing their name to The Band and their participation in the mythical Woodstock festival in 1969 , became one of the most respected groups in rock. Martin Scorsese recorded the band’s farewell concert in San Francisco in 1976 and published it as a documentary under the name The Last Waltz (1978).
Known for their vocal harmonies, they had three excellent singers: multi-instrumentalist Levon Helm, bassist Rick Danko, and pianist Richard Manuel. “This band was a real band. Everybody lived up to it to the end,” Robertson wrote of his four bandmates in his 2016 autobiography, Testimony. His debut album, from 1968, contained hits like Dylan’s The Weight and I Shall Be Released, among others. Their second album, from 1969, simply titled The Band, was even better received by critics. With their unique blend of folk, rock, country, soul, and gospel, The Band influenced Eric Clapton, Elton John, the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, and generations of musicians to come.
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