Robbie Robertson


Jaime Robbie Robertson (born July 5, 1943 in Toronto, Ontario Canada) is a songwriter, guitarist and singer, probably best known for his membership in The Band.

Early life

Robertson was born to a Jewish father and a Mohawk mother. His earliest exposure to music was at Six Nations 40, Ontario, where he lived for a period.

He studied guitar from his youth, and was writing songs and performing from his teen years.

The Hawks and Bob Dylan

By 1958, Robertson was performing in various groups around Toronto. In 1960, he met singer Ronnie Hawkins, who led a band called The Hawks after relocating to Canada from the United States. [1] Robertson joined The Hawks, who toured often, then split from Hawkins in 1963.

The quintet called themselves The Canadian Esquires and Levon and the Hawks [2] (and rejected such tongue in cheek names as The Honkies and The Crackers), then called themselves The Band.

Bob Dylan hired The Band for his famed and controversial tours of 1965 and 1966, his first wide exposure as an "electric" rock and roll performer rather than his earlier folk sound. Robertson's distinctive guitar sound was an essential part of the music.

The Band

From their first album, Music From Big Pink (1968), The Band were praised as one of rock music's preeminent groups. Rolling Stone in particular lavished praise and coverage on The Band to an extent rarely seen before or since in the magazine.

Robertson sang only a few songs with The Band, but was the group's primary songwriter, and was often seen as the de facto bandleader. Drummer and singer Levon Helm would later claim that Robertson took too much songwriting credit for The Band's material.

In 1976, Robertson decided to break up The Band, reporting that he was profoundly by exhausted by nearly twenty years' worth of almost non-stop touring. In The Last Waltz, Robertson noted that he had been playing live rock and roll music nearly since rock and roll began.

The Band reformed in 1983, without Robertson.

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese hired Robertson to compose the musical score for his 1980 film Raging Bull. Robertson would later work on Scorsese's movies The King of Comedy and Casino.

Solo music

Robertson has released four solo albums:

  • 1987 Robbie Robertson
  • 1991 Storyville
  • 1994 Music for the Native Americans
  • 1998 Contact from the Underworld of Red Boy