Robbie Robertson: Musicians pay tribute to The Band guitarist and songwriter

The artist was known for his collaborations with Bob Dylan and Martin Scorsese

Robbie Robertson, left, with Elvis Costello in 2006. Reuters
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Tributes are pouring in for Robbie Robertson, who has been hailed as a Canadian “icon” and a “great friend”.

The musician, who died on Wednesday aged 80, was The Band’s lead guitarist and wrote classics including The Weight, Up On Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

He was known for the music he created with The Band, whose members included Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson, as well as touring with Bob Dylan and lending his musical talents to Martin Scorsese’s films.

Robertson died surrounded by family in Los Angeles “after a long illness”, his publicist Ray Costa confirmed.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Neil Diamond paid tribute to Robertson, who produced his album Beautiful Noise.

The American singer wrote: “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 US president Bill Clinton also paid tribute to Robertson via X.

“Robbie Robertson was a brilliant songwriter, guitarist, and composer whose gifts changed music forever,” Clinton said.

“I’m grateful for all the good memories he gave me – going back to his time in the Hawks when I was a teenager – and for his kindness through the years. I’ll miss him.”

English musician Ronnie Wood shared images from the rock documentary The Last Waltz, which was about a concert billed as The Band’s “farewell” gig.

He wrote: “Such sad news about Robbie Robertson – he was a lovely man, a great friend and will be dearly missed.”

Released in 1978, Eric Clapton, Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and Sir Ringo Starr also were among the musicians to appear in the film directed by Scorsese.

Musician and 24 actor Kiefer Sutherland, who is also from Canada, wrote: “The loss of Robbie Robertson is heartbreaking. Canada has lost an icon, and music has lost a poet and a scholar.”

Robertson also contributed to soundtracks for Scorsese films such as The Colour Of Money, The King Of Comedy, The Departed and The Irishman.

Canadian musician Bryan Adams wrote: “RIP Robbie Robertson. Thanks for the amazing music and the great hangs, especially photographing you in LA not so long ago.”

Echoing the lyrics of The Band’s song The Weight, Adams added: “We’ll keep Anna Lee company for you…”

Robertson’s family posted on the musician's account on X, saying: “Robbie was surrounded by his family at the time of his death, including his wife, Janet, his ex-wife, Dominique, her partner Nicholas, and his children Alexandra, Sebastian, Delphine, and Delphine’s partner Kenny.

“In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the Six Nations of the Grand River to support the building of their new cultural centre.”

Updated: August 10, 2023, 8:08 AM