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Legendary guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson has had several hit albums with The Band, an influential rock group of the 1960s and 1970s.
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Commercial success soon followed with their 1969 self-titled release, which featured such songs as "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Behind the scenes, Robertson penned many of the group's songs and was praised for his storytelling abilities. The group became part of music history as one of the acts at the legendary Woodstock Festival held that year.
The Band continued to enjoy great popularity with their subsequent albums,
including 1970's Stage Fright and the live recording Rock of Ages, released in 1972. They reunited with Dylan for a 1974 tour. While on the road together, Dylan and The Band recorded the concert album Before the Flood, which proved to be another big hit.
Robertson was growing tired of the group and of life on the road. In 1976, The Band called it quits, and their final show was an all-star salute to the groundbreaking rock act. Muddy Waters, Neil Young and Emmylou Harris were just a few of the music stars who participated in this farewell concert. Martin Scorsese filmed the event and later released it as The Last Waltz. Robertson and Scorsese became good friends during the project.
Even before the group's breakup, other band members took issue with Robertson over the songwriting credits. Some felt that he claimed ownership of songs that were done collaboratively and that he should have shared the credits. This helped fuel a feud between Robertson and Helm that lasted for decades.
Even before The Band officially split, Robertson had begun to go his own way. He produced Neil Diamond's Beautiful Noise (1976) album. Delving into the film world, Robertson tried his hand at acting with 1980's Carny with Gary Busey and Jodie Foster. He also helped create the music for the movie.
Working with Martin Scorsese, Robertson served as a producer and arranger for the soundtrack to the boxing classic Raging Bull (1980) starring Robert De Niro. The pair have joined forces numerous times since then, with Robertson helping Scorsese out on such films as The King of Comedy (1983) and The Color of Money (1986).
In the late 1987, Robertson launched his solo career with a self-titled album. The new recording featured appearances by Peter Gabriel and members of the rock band U2. While the album sold well, Robertson didn't achieve the same level of commercial success as he had experienced with The Band. He turned his focus to the sounds of New Orleans for 1991's Storyville, which garnered him two Grammy Award nominations.
Robertson returned to his roots for 1994's Music for the Native Americans. As he told Guitar Player, "I wanted to do something that didn't conform to the stereotype of Native American music. Everything on this album—the stories, rhythms, and harmonies—evolves out of some tradition, but we weren't trying to be old-fashioned." Native American music informed his next work, 1998's Contact from the Underworld of Redboy. He also made a documentary for television on the subject, Making a Noise: A Native American Journey with Robbie Robertson.
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Woodstock, the legendary 1969 music festival, changed the history of rock and roll. For three days on a 600-acre dairy farm in the Castkills of New York, 32 performers put on one of the biggest rock shows of all time in front of 500,000 fans. Here are some of the famous musicians who were part of Woodstock history.
Woodstock Performers 23 people in this group
Famous Cancerians 586 people in this group
Famous Guitarists 177 people in this group