West News Wire: The Band’s lead guitarist and primary songwriter, Robbie Robertson, passed away at the age of 80, according to his manager. 

Robertson, who left his Toronto home at the age of 16 to follow his ambitions of being a rock and roll musician, passed away on Wednesday in Los Angeles after a protracted illness, according to a statement from his 34-year manager Jared Levine. 

“Robbie was surrounded by his family at the time of his death,” the statement continued. 

The Band was led by an Arkansas drummer named Levon Helm and featured four Canadians named Robertson, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel. Initially known as The Hawks, the group supported rockabilly outlaw Ronnie Hawkins before becoming well-known for appearing with Bob Dylan on his “Going Electric” tours from 1965 to 1966. 

After changing their name to The Band and rebasing in Woodstock, New York, they became one of the most respected groups in rock. Their 1976 farewell concert in San Francisco was the basis of Martin Scorsese’s 1978 documentary The Last Waltz. 

The Band had a unique chemistry. Known for their vocal harmonies, they had three excellent singers in Helm, bassist Danko and pianist Manuel. Organist and multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson was also crucial. 

In his 2016 autobiography, Testimony, Robertson referred to his four bandmates as “the goods.” 

This band actually existed. The high wire is tight here. Everyone did a great job of holding up their end.One cannot overstate the significance of The Band’s first album, Music from Big Pink, released in 1968, according to critic Greil Marcus in 2000.

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The Weight and Dylan’s I Shall Be Released were among the top songs on it. 

Even better was their second album, just named The Band, released in 1969. The Band impacted musicians like Eric Clapton, Elton John, the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, and subsequent generations of musicians with their frontiersman aesthetic and distinctive fusion of folk, rock, country, soul, and gospel music. 


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