“Robbie’s music seemed to come from the deepest place at the heart of this continent, its traditions and tragedies and joys”: Remembering Robbie Robertson, 1943-2023

Robbie Robertson
(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Jaime Royal ‘Robbie’ Robertson was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He started learning the guitar at the age of nine, and, as a young teen, cut his teeth in popular music bands in the mid- to late-’50s. By the time he was 16, he had received his first break when Ronnie Hawkins spotted the young musician in Toronto playing with The Suedes, and joined them on stage. 

Hawkins then invited Robbie to play bass for his backing band The Hawks, joining drummer and singer Levon Helm and later recruiting bassist Rick Danko (Robbie switching to guitar), pianist Richard Manuel and keyboardist Garth Hudson in the early ’60s. The line-up would go on to become The Band.

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Glenn Kimpton

Glenn Kimpton is a freelance writer based in the west of England. His interest in English folk music came through players like Chris Wood and Martin Carthy, who also steered him towards alternate guitar tunings. From there, the solo acoustic instrumental genre, sometimes called American Primitive, became more important, with guitarists like Jack Rose, Glenn Jones and Robbie Basho eventually giving way to more contemporary players like William Tyler and Nick Jonah Davis. Most recently, Glenn has focused on a more improvised and experimental side to solo acoustic playing, both through his writing and his own music, with players like Bill Orcutt and Tashi Dorji being particularly significant.