Book - 2016
In this captivating memoir, Robbie Robertson shares the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. It's the story of a time when rock 'n' roll became life, when music legends moved through the same streets and hotel rooms, and above all, the profound friendship among five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.
Prolific and eclectic Robertson is best known as the lead guitarist for the Band and their legendary The Last Waltz farewell concert, preserved in Martin Scorsese's mesmerizing documentary. On that occasion's fortieth anniversary, Robertson releases a memoir many decades in the making, a thoughtful look back on a remarkable life growing up half-Jewish, half-Mohawk on the Six Nations Indian Reserve and then in Toronto. It was on the Indian reserve that he was introduced to storytelling and traditional music and sacred myths, all of which, he writes, had "a powerful impact on me." He discusses his years with rockabilly artist Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks; going "electric" with Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour; the recording of The Basement Tapes at the Big Pink house in upstate New York; and, of course, the formation of the Band. Robertson also describes the various local scenes he inhabited, from the Hotel Chelsea to Woodstock to the Malibu Colony. But the story ends with the Band's end, leaving fans to savor this rich memoir and wait for the next. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Robertson, songwriter and guitarist for the Band, who essentially defined Americana rock with their mixture of folk, blues, country, and rock with lyrics that mined history and timeless themes, has written a fascinating personal memoir. This lyricist with strong storytelling skills writes with an evocative voice that moves the narrative from sweaty Southern clubs to an artistic community in the New York Catskills to venues before huge audiences. Robertson recalls the five men of the Band and the bonds that were formed, tested, and sometimes frayed in the alchemy of creating music. From their early days with Ronnie Hawkins to backing Bob Dylan and creating with him the famous Basement Tapes to massive success on their own with the making of the farewell concert film The Last Waltz, this is a revealing look at a rock life of the 1960s and 1970s, featuring cameos from dozens of celebrities of the time and populated by a carnivalesque cast of supporting characters. VERDICT Writing about both small scene-stealing moments and of major life events with equal vigor, detail, and reflection, Robertson documents a crucially influential band and era. This book will enrich and delight any rock fan.—James Collins, Morristown-Morris Twp. P.L., NJ. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
Robertson, guitarist and songwriter for the Band, highlights his career, from his early days with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks to the last waltz of the Band in 1976. A masterly storyteller, Robertson easily draws readers into tales of his youth and of his days with Bob Dylan. He describes the eventual formation of the Band and the group's quick climb to fame. For the first time, Robertson tells his side of the story regarding his relationship with fellow Band member Levon Helm. In their early days, the two were close friends, but in late 1969, on the way home from a show, Robertson recalls that Helm lied to him about his drug use, and Robertson recalls: "Things changed in that moment. A distance grew between Levon and me that I don't know if we were ever able to mend." Throughout, Robertson provides an intimate look at the making of the Band's farewell concert at Winterland—the Last Waltz—and describes the exhilaration, relief, and sadness of the night and the following days. Though it would have been nice if Robertson had included reflections on life since the Band and his own substantial solo career, this long-awaited and colorfully told memoir paints a masterpiece of a life in rock and roll. (Nov.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.
A memoir by the influential rock artist traces his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk upbringing in Toronto, his early years with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins, the rise of The Band, the stories behind his iconic songs, and The Band's famous farewell concert, The Last Waltz.Review by Publisher Summary 2
In this captivating memoir, Robbie Robertson shares the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. Robertson and his partners in The Band fashioned a music that has endured for decades, influencing countless musicians. One of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of his time, now he employs his storyteller's voice to weave together the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. It's the story of a time when rock 'n' roll became life, when music legends moved through the same streets and hotel rooms, and above all, the profound friendship among five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.Review by Publisher Summary 3
A memoir by the influential rock artist traces his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk upbringing in Toronto, his early years with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins, the rise of The Band, the stories behind his iconic songs and The Band's famous farewell concert, The Last Waltz.Review by Publisher Summary 4
The New York Times BestsellerOn the 40th anniversary of The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz concert, Robbie Robertson finally tells his own spellbinding story of the band that changed music history, his extraordinary personal journey, and his creative friendships with some of the greatest artists of the last half-century. Robbie Robertson's singular contributions to popular music have made him one of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of his time. With songs like "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and "Up on Cripple Creek," he and his partners in The Band fashioned a music that has endured for decades, influencing countless musicians. In this captivating memoir, written over five years of reflection, Robbie Robertson employs his unique storyteller’s voice to weave together the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. He recounts the adventures of his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk upbringing on the Six Nations Indian Reserve and on the gritty streets of Toronto; his odyssey at sixteen to the Mississippi Delta, the fountainhead of American music; the wild early years on the road with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks; his unexpected ties to the Cosa Nostra underworld; the gripping trial-by-fire “going electric” with Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour, and their ensuing celebrated collaborations; the formation of the Band and the forging of their unique sound, culminating with history's most famous farewell concert, brought to life for all time in Martin Scorsese's great movie The Last Waltz. This is the story of a time and place--the moment when rock 'n' roll became life, when legends like Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley criss-crossed the circuit of clubs and roadhouses from Texas to Toronto, when The Beatles, Hendrix, The Stones, and Warhol moved through the same streets and hotel rooms. It's the story of exciting change as the world tumbled through the '60s and early 70’s, and a generation came of age, built on music, love and freedom. Above all, it's the moving story of the profound friendship between five young men who together created a new kind of popular music. Testimony is Robbie Robertson’s story, lyrical and true, as only he could tell it.