"We had no idea we were going to do it": That time Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge saluted the Band with a surprise campfire cover of The Weight

On August 9, we lost Robbie Robertson, a true electric guitar legend and a masterful songwriter.

Though the group he led, The Band, never quite achieved the mammoth commercial success of some of classic rock's other top-tier acts, they were loved and respected by the members of just about all of those stadium-packing bands. 

Many of The Band's best-known songs – such as Up on Cripple Creek, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, and It Makes No Difference – were penned by Robertson, who also, with his bandmates, backed Bob Dylan on-and-off for a number of years

Perhaps Robertson's most timeless composition, though, is The Weight, which appeared on The Band's 1968 debut album, Music From Big Pink, and was later immortalized as a hippie generation classic by its prominent inclusion in the film Easy Rider

An example of the song's impact and influence can be found in the guitar-themed 2008 documentary It Might Get Loud, which closes with Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White – superstars from three generations, three very distinct bands, and with three very different approaches to the guitar – coming together for a campfire-esque cover The Weight that can be seen above. 

Each wielding a beautiful acoustic, the three play the song – while the film's credits roll – with the loose and relaxed air of an informal jam between friends. 

Said credits also feature – among other footage – White detailing the acoustic guitar he uses for the jam, a Gretsch Rancher adorned with unique, Western-themed artwork courtesy of tattoo artist Kore Flatmo. The most prominent aspect of that artwork is an etching of actress Claudette Colbert, from which the guitar gets its nickname, “Claudette.”

While – unlike White and The Edge – never taking a turn on lead vocals, Page gets his time in the spotlight too, unleashing some smokin', almost mandolin-like leads on his vintage Martin guitar.

In a 2009 interview with Entertainment Weekly, White cited the trio’s cover of The Weight as one of his favorite moments from the making of It Might Get Loud.

“I’m glad that The Edge picked that song because it was a song that none of us knew how to play,” White recalled. “So, the three of us showed each other how to play it. You hear bands do things that your bands cover, or write a new song. And you don’t get to see the genesis of it, and that was one of those times. It was the perfect thing to film. It was like, 'Oh, happily, let’s film this. This is the good stuff'.”

“I remember we had no idea we were going to do it,” added Page in the same interview, “and Edge proposed it and we said 'Yeah, ok, cool, let’s have a go.' 

“He was showing us the chords, and we were just about getting it together, when he said, 'Oh, actually the chords are not right.' (Laughs). It’s a lovely moment. It was really intimate when we were just sitting down, with the guitars, and just playing. It was quite amazing.”

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.