Robbie Robertson, the renowned musician and singer celebrated for his role as the frontman of The Band, has sadly passed away at the age of 80. Robertson, a prominent figure in Canadian music history, was best known for his contributions to The Band’s success, including iconic tracks like “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up on Cripple Creek.”
On Wednesday (9 August), Robertson’s management confirmed that he had succumbed to a long illness in Los Angeles. The news was announced by his longtime manager Jared Levine, who stated, “Robbie was surrounded by his family at the time of his deἀth, 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.”
Recently, Robertson wrapped up his fourteenth film music project alongside his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese—’Kἰllers of the Flower Moon.’ In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to be made to the Six Nations of the Grand River, supporting the construction of a new cultural center.
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Throughout his illustrious career, Robertson’s artistic synergy with director Scorsese was apparent, starting with their collaboration on the 1978 rockumentary ‘The Last Waltz,’ documenting The Band’s final concert. This partnership continued, yielding memorable soundtracks for iconic films such as ‘Raging Bull’ (1980), ‘Casino’ (1995), ‘The Departed’ (2006), ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013), and ‘The Irishman’ (2019).
Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1943, Robertson’s connection to Native American heritage was nurtured by his mother, leading him to frequently visit reservations during his upbringing. His musical journey began at the age of 16 when he joined forces with drummer Levon Helm in the Hawks, the supporting band for rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins. The Hawks evolved into the legendary ensemble, The Band, which released its groundbreaking debut album ‘Music from Big Pink’ in 1968.
The Band’s impact was further validated in 1994 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, marked by a live performance at the ceremony. Robertson’s creative path expanded beyond the band with his solo music ventures and extensive collaborations with Eric Clapton, alongside his remarkable contributions to film and television soundtracks.
In his final interview published two weeks before his passing, Robertson discussed his involvement in ‘Kἰllers of the Flower Moon.’ Reflecting on the project’s significance, he remarked, “Marty and I are both 80 years old, and we’re getting to do a Western, we’re getting to do a movie about Indians, in our own way.”
Robertson shared his profound bond with Scorsese, saying, “We’re in awe ourselves that our brotherhood has outlasted everything. We’ve been through it; we’ve been there and back. I am so proud of our friendship and our work. It’s been just a gift in life.”
The legacy of Robbie Robertson remains indelible in the world of music and cinema, as fans fondly remember his significant contributions and enduring impact.