Wednesday, April 17, 2024

RIP Robbie Robertson, Founder of The Band, Dies at 80 After Short Illness, Trailblazing Music Star


Heartbreaking news: Robbie Robertson has died at age 80. The founding member of The Band, I’m told, had a short battle with aggressive cancer. It’s almost hard to believe since just recently scored Martin Scorsese’s movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Robbie and Scorsese had a long, close relationship going back to the 1970s when Scorsese filmed “The Last Waltz.”

I was lucky enough to know Robbie, we shared a mutual friend. He was such a great musician and a gentle soul. I was there when he debuted his documentary about The Band at the Toronto Film Festival, which some said erred a little too much on his side. But even with the various machinations of being in a band of geniuses, the combined efforts of Robbie, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson produced a body of work that has never — and will never — go out of style.

Of course, The Band was known sort of as Bob Dylan’s backup group thanks to “The Basement Tapes.” But they stood out on their own with albums like ‘Stage Fright” and “Music from Big Pink” and songs like “The Weight.” I always loved Robbie’s solo records, too, especially this one below, “Broken Arrow.” What a sad day. Condolences to his family.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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