After finishing the concert with ” I Shall Be Released “, the five members of The Band returned for a cover of” don’t do it by Marvin Gaye.
The life of Robbie Robertson, who died Wednesday morning after a long illness, can be divided into two parts: everything that happened before The last Waltz and everything that happened after. The 1976 concert at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco marked the end of his career with The Band, the end of his touring years and the beginning of his life as a rock veteran.
He hosted one of the greatest concerts in rock history, featuring Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood and Ringo Starr. Martin Scorsese and his crew were on hand to film every moment, but after 42 songs and nearly 10 hours of continuous filming, the cameras began to melt. Fortunately, a black-and-white camera placed discreetly to the side by Bill Graham’s team captured everything Scorsese’s team had missed.
The main set ended with the return of almost all the musicians of the evening for ” I Shall Be Released and a few jams. It was 2 a.m. by then and the five band members were exhausted and numb after playing all night, but they decided to come back one last time to pick up. Baby Don’t You Do It by Marvin Gaye, which had been a staple of their gigs for years. Watch this video of the performance which mixes footage from Scorsese’s crew and Bill Graham’s camera.
The group reformed in 1983 without Robbie Robertson. He played with them at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1993, but keyboardist Richard Manuel had died by then, and drummer Levon Helm stayed home due to a long battle with Robertson over writing credits. It means that The last Waltz was truly the last time all members of The Band’s classic lineup performed together in public as The Band. (Technically, they all shared the stage at a solo Rick Danko gig in 1978, but it wasn’t a The Band gig).
Robertson never attempted to tour solo despite releasing several albums, limiting his gigs to special events such as the Crossroads Guitar Festival and various Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Surpass The last Waltz was impossible. He didn’t even want to try.
Translated by the editor