The Band’s Robbie Robertson dies aged 80: Martin Scorsese, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr lead tributes

10 August 2023, 10:55

The Band's Robbie Robertson has died aged 80.
The Band's Robbie Robertson has died aged 80. Picture: Instagram/@the_band_official/Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

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Robbie Robertson, the singer-songwriter and guitarist of The Band, has died aged 80.

Only weeks after celebrating his 80th birthday, Robertson passed away after battling a "long illness" it was revealed in a statement by his long-time manager Jared Levine.

Levine was Robertson's manager for over thirty years, and confirmed he died in Los Angeles surrounded by his family which including his wife, his ex-wife, her partner, and his children.

The statement made to Variety on 9th August 2023 went on to say: "He is also survived by his grandchildren Angelica, Donovan, Dominic, Gabriel and Seraphina."

The family of the co-founder of The Band implored that donations be made to the Six Nations of the Grand River in lieu of sending flowers. The donations will be helped to support a new Woodland Cultural Centre.

The Band's Robbie Robertson performing alongside Bob Dylan and Van Morrison at their farewell concert, The Last Waltz. (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The Band's Robbie Robertson performing alongside Bob Dylan and Van Morrison at their farewell concert, The Last Waltz. (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). Picture: Getty

Robertson only recently completed his fourteenth film music project on Killers Of The Flower Moon with frequent collaborator and friend Martin Scorsese.

In 1978, The Band's farewell show The Last Waltz was documented by Scorsese and is widely considered to be one of the all-time classics of music documentaries.

It was the start of a fruitful creative relationship with the Goodfellas and Taxi Driver director, with Robertson going on to score his films like Raging Bull, Casino, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Irishmen.

Scorsese paid tribute to Robertson and said: "Robbie Robertson was one of my closest friends, a constant in my life and my work. I could always go to him as a confidante. A collaborator. An advisor. I tried to be the same for him."

"Long before we ever met, his music played a central role in my life—me and millions and millions of other people all over this world. The Band’s music, and Robbie’s own later solo music, seemed to come from the deepest place at the heart of this continent, its traditions and tragedies and joys."

"It goes without saying that he was a giant, that his effect on the art form was profound and lasting. There’s never enough time with anyone you love. And I loved Robbie," Scorsese continued.

The Last Waltz (1978) - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down Scene (5/7) | Movieclips

Robbie Robertson's influence and regard was far reaching, having collaborated with the likes of Bob Dylan (of whom The Band acted as his backing band for a period), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ringo Starr, Neil Diamond, and many more.

The likes of Joni Mitchell, Starr, Diamond, Ronnie Wood, actor Kiefer Sutherland, Canadian President Justin Trudeau, Bryan Adams, and former POTUS Bill Clinton have all shared their touching tributes.

Joni Mitchell’s team wrote on her social media accounts: "Rest in peace Robbie Robertson, legendary lead guitarist of The Band, fellow Canadian, and cherished collaborator of Joni's. May his legacy and musical harmony resonate for generations to come."

Similarly, Neil Diamond shared on his socials: "The music world lost a great one with the passing of Robbie Robertson. Keep making that Beautiful Noise in the sky, Robbie. I’ll miss you."

Former drummer of The Beatles, Ringo Starr, kept it simple and poignant saying: "God bless Robbie Robertson."

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