ROBBIE ROBERTSON Biography - Musicians


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Name: Robbie Robertson                                                             
Born: 5 July 1943 Toronto, Ontario, Canada                                         
Robbie Robertson (born Jamie Robert Klegerman, 5 July 1943 at Toronto, Ontario,   
Canada) is a songwriter, guitarist and singer, best known for his membership       
in The Band. He was ranked 78th in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the "100       
Greatest Guitarists of All Time".                                                 
Born to a Jewish father and a Mohawk mother, (he took his stepfather's last name   
after his mother remarried), Robertson had his earliest exposure to music at Six   
Nations 40, Ontario, where he spent summers with his mother's family. He studied   
guitar from his youth and has been writing songs and performing since his teen     
By 1958, Robertson was performing in various groups around Toronto. By 1959 he     
had met singer Ronnie Hawkins, who headed up a band called The Hawks (after       
relocating to Canada). In 1960 he joined the group, which toured often, before     
splitting from Hawkins in 1963.                                                   
The quintet styled themselves as The Canadian Squires and Levon and the Hawks,     
but (after rejecting such tongue-in-cheek names as The Honkies and The Crackers), 
ultimately called themselves The Band.                                             
Bob Dylan hired The Band for his famed, controversial tours of 1965 and 1966,     
his first wide exposure as an electrified rock and roll performer rather than     
his earlier acoustic folk sound. Robertson's distinctive guitar sound was an       
important part of the music; Dylan famously praised him as "the only               
mathematical guitar genius I've ever run into who doesn't offend my intestinal     
nervousness with his rearguard sound."                                             
From their first album, Music from Big Pink (1968), The Band was praised as one   
of rock music's preeminent groups. Rolling Stone magazine praised The Band and     
gave its music extensive coverage. Robertson sang only a few songs with The Band, 
but was the group's primary songwriter, and was in the later years of the Band     
often seen as the de facto bandleader.                                             
In 1976, Robertson decided to break up The Band, reporting that he was exhausted   
by nearly sixteen years touring with them. In the Martin Scorsese film The Last   
Waltz (1978) he noted that he had been playing live rock and roll music almost     
since rock and roll began. Also, credited officially as the band's main           
songwriter, he was able to live off the song royalties, and no longer needed to   
tour. The Band reformed in 1983 without Robertson.