Robbie Robertson Dies

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me, If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don’t have to speak, she defends me, A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one

Jaime Robert Klegerman, known professionally as Robbie Robertson, was born on July 5, 1943, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was raised in a mixed-race household; his father was of Jewish descent, and his mother had Mohawk[1] and Cayuga First Nations[2] ancestry.

Growing up, Robertson developed an early interest in music and guitar, inspired by his mother’s diverse record collection and the vibrant musical scene in Toronto. He became a fan of rock and roll and rhythm and blues through the radio.

When Robertson was 14, he worked two brief summer jobs in the traveling carnival circuit, first for a few days in a suburb of Toronto, and later as an assistant at a freak show for three weeks during the Canadian National Exhibition[3]. He later drew from this for his song “Life is a Carnival” (with the Band) and the movie Carny (1980), which he both produced and starred in.

He would listen to disc jockey George “Hound Dog” Lorenz[4] play rock on WKBW from Buffalo, New York, and stay up to listen to John R.’s all-night blues show on WLAC, a clear-channel station in Nashville, Tennessee. “Little Caesar and the Consuls” was a Canadian rock and roll band that Robbie Robertson joined in his early musical career.

The band was based in Toronto, Ontario, and had a significant local following in the late 1950s. The band caught the attention of Ronnie Hawkins, a prominent rock and roll musician, and bandleader. In the late 1950s, Robertson joined a rockabilly group called “The Suedes.” Later, he formed a band called “Robbie and the Robots.”

In 1960, he joined Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band, “The Hawks.” This group gained prominence in the American South before parting ways with Hawkins. They eventually became Bob Dylan’s backing band in 1965 during his transition to electric rock music.

The collaboration was met with mixed reactions from Dylan’s folk audience but played a significant role in shaping rock music. After their work with Bob Dylan, the group, now known as “The Band,” began releasing their music. The Band’s music was characterized by a blend of rock, folk, country, and R&B influences, along with Robertson’s thoughtful songwriting.

The Band released their debut album, “Music from Big Pink,” in 1968, followed by several critically acclaimed albums like “The Band” (1969) and “Stage Fright” (1970). After The Band’s farewell concert “The Last Waltz” in 1976 (later turned into a famous documentary directed by Martin Scorsese), Robertson embarked on a solo career.

He released several albums, including his self-titled debut in 1987, which featured the hit single “Somewhere Down the Crazy River.” Robertson ventured into film scoring, working on projects like Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” (1980) and “The Color of Money” (1986). He also produced albums for various artists, showcasing his skills as a versatile musician.

Here are a few of Robbie Robertsons Songs
  1. Song: “The Weight”
    • Release Date: 1968
    • Album: “Music from Big Pink”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  2. Song: “Across the Great Divide”
    • Release Date: 1969
    • Album: “The Band”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  3. Song: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”
    • Release Date: 1969
    • Album: “The Band”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  4. Song: “Up on Cripple Creek”
    • Release Date: 1969
    • Album: “The Band”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  5. Song: “Strawberry Wine”
    • Release Date: 1970
    • Album: “Stage Fright”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  6. Song: “Life Is a Carnival”
    • Release Date: 1971
    • Album: “Cahoots”
    • Writers: Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko
  7. Song: “Acadian Driftwood”
    • Release Date: 1975
    • Album: “Northern Lights – Southern Cross”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  8. Song: “Christmas Must Be Tonight”
    • Release Date: 1977
    • Album: “Islands”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  9. Song: “Go Back to Your Woods”
    • Release Date: 1991
    • Album: “Storyville”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  10. Song: “The Sound Is Fading”
    • Release Date: 1998
    • Album: “Contact from the Underworld of Redboy”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  11. Song: “This Is Where I Get Off”
    • Release Date: 2011
    • Album: “How to Become Clairvoyant”
    • Writers: Robbie Robertson, Eric Clapton
  12. Song: “It’s in the Way That You Use It”
    • Release Date: 1986
    • Album: Eric Clapton’s “August”
    • Writers: Robbie Robertson, Eric Clapton
  13. Song: “Wedding Song”
    • Release Date: 1974
    • Album: Bob Dylan’s “Planet Waves”
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson
  14. Song: “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”
    • Release Date: 1987
    • Album: Robbie Robertson
    • Writer: Robbie Robertson

He had recently completed his fourteenth film music project with frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ According to an announcement from his management, Robertson died Wednesday, August 9, 2023, in Los Angeles after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, Janet, his ex-wife, Dominique, her partner Nicholas, his children Alexandra, Sebastian, Delphine, and Delphine’s partner Kenny, his grandchildren Angelica, Donovan, Dominic, Gabriel, and Seraphina. Robbie Robertson was 70 years old.

This was always my favorite song by The Band

  1. The Mohawk Nation, a member of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, is an Indigenous group with a historical presence in the northeastern region of North America, particularly in areas that are now part of New York, Ontario, and Quebec. Renowned for their skilled craftsmanship, the Mohawk people have a rich cultural heritage that includes intricate beadwork, basketry, and wampum production. The Mohawk language, part of the Iroquoian linguistic family, has been central to preserving their unique identity. Traditionally known as Kanienʼkehá꞉ka, the Mohawk have a strong connection to their ancestral lands, and their history is marked by resilience and an ongoing commitment to cultural preservation and sovereignty. [Back]
  2. The Cayuga First Nation is one of the six Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nations, traditionally residing in the northeastern part of North America, particularly in what is now known as upstate New York and southern Ontario. As a part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Cayuga people have a rich cultural heritage, characterized by their matrilineal social structure, longhouses, and participatory democracy known as the Great Law of Peace. They have historically relied on agriculture, hunting, and fishing for sustenance, with the Hiawatha wampum belt symbolizing their unity. Today, the Cayuga First Nation, along with the other Haudenosaunee nations, continues to uphold their traditions, advocate for sovereignty, and contribute to North America’s diverse fabric of Indigenous cultures. [Back]
  3. The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is an annual event held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that showcases a diverse range of entertainment, agricultural displays, exhibits, and attractions. Established in 1879, the CNE has become a significant summer tradition, drawing millions of visitors each year. Featuring amusement rides, live performances, culinary delights, arts and crafts, and commercial displays, the CNE offers a vibrant and immersive experience that reflects Canada’s cultural and technological advancements. The fair also has a historical and economic impact, contributing to the city’s identity and offering a platform for innovation and community engagement. [Back]
  4. George “Hound Dog” Lorenz was a pioneering American radio DJ known for his significant contributions to the popularization of rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll music. Operating primarily in the 1950s, Lorenz gained fame for his distinctive on-air persona, passionate delivery, and dedication to promoting African-American artists and their music. His influential radio shows, such as “The Hound Dog’s Howl” and “Rock ‘n’ Rhythm Review,” helped break down racial barriers in broadcasting and played a pivotal role in introducing new sounds to a wide audience. Lorenz’s enthusiastic support of artists like Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry contributed to the crossover success of rhythm and blues into mainstream pop culture, laying the groundwork for the rock music explosion that followed. [Back]

Further Reading


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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