Robbie Robertson of legendary group The Band dies at age 80

Robbie Robertson of legendary group The Band dies at age 80

Canadian songwriter wrote classics ‘The Weight,’ ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’

By Barry Ellsworth

TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canadian Robbie Robertson, leader of the legendary group The Band and songwriter of classics like “The Weight,” died Wednesday aged 80.

His longtime manager, Jared Levine, said in a statement that Robertson died in Los Angeles, California following a long illness.

“Robbie was surrounded by his family at the time of his death, including his wife Janet…and his children,” Levine said in a statement.

The Band, consisting of four Canadians and an American, the late Levon Helm, was considered one of the top groups of all time. Robertson played guitar and was the principal songwriter.

The Band worked extensively with Bob Dylan and, according to Variety magazine, the group influenced “contemporaries like Eric Clapton and George Harrison and succeeding generations of American roots musicians.”

Robertson, who was an Indigenous Canadian, was born in Toronto but had roots in the nearby Six Nations Reserve. He was the principal songwriter of hits like “The Weight” as well as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Shape I’m In.”

He is considered one of the first Indigenous rock stars and received a lifetime achievement award at the Native American Music Awards in 2017.

The Band formed in 1967 and disbanded in 1976 after the Martin Scorsese film “The Last Waltz.” It was their farewell tour. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Robertson embarked on a solo career, receiving five Juno Awards (Canadian equivalent of The Grammys). He entered the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011 and Canada’s Wall of Fame in 2014.

Robertson was also a composer, musical supervisor and musical producer of films including “Raging Bull,” “The Color of Money,” “Gangs of New York” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

He is also rated No. 59 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists.​​​​​​​

Funeral arrangements were not announced as of press time.

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