Robbie Robertson of the Band has died at age 80

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      Famous as both a solo artist and a member of the Band, Canadian-born songwriter Robbie Robertson has died at the age of 80. A statement from his manager said that he was surrounded by friends and family, and that his passing came after a lengthy illness.

      Determined as a teenager to build a career in the music industry, Robertson eventually landed in a band fronted by Canadian rockabilly icon Ronnie Hawkins. That group subsequently backed Bob Dylan on tour, including his controversial first shows playing with electric guitars.

      Robertson—along with bassist Rick Danko, keyboardist Garth Hudson, multi-instrumentalist Richard Manuel, and drummer Levon Helm—would then strike out on its own as the economically named the Band, whose debut album Music From the Big Pink led to instant stardom.

      If there’s a one-stop soundtrack to every road trip ever taken in the late ’60s and early ’70s, “The Weight”—cowritten by Robertson—is right at the top. If you have an undying love for acts like Wilco, Big Thief, or the Meat Puppets, you can thank The Band for blazing a trail.

      After releasing a string of albums, and piling up hit singles—“Up on Cripple Creek”, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “Acadian Driftwood”—members of the Band agreed to part ways, with Robertson burned out on touring. The group’s final show, The Last Waltz, was filmed by Martin Scorcese, who then used it as the focus for a celebrated documentary.

      Robertson went on to forge a career as a successful producer, reuniting with members of the band twice for an appearance at Woodstock ’94, and for an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that same year.

      In a 2016 interview with the Straight, Robertson reflected on his career, proving nothing if not colourful as he recounted his war stories. One of the best was backing up Dylan, who enraged his entire fan base by going electric.

      “I’d never seen people charging the stage with venom coming out of their eyes,” he recalled. “So angry! And they not only charged the stage—they got on the stage. I thought, ‘Ah! It’s a revolution! Okay! Then we’ll treat it as a revolution.’”

      Here is how his peers are remembering Robertson on social media.