“His effect on the art form was profound and lasting”: Robbie Robertson, 1943-2023 – the guitar world pays tribute

Robbie Robertson
(Image credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Yesterday (August 9), it was announced that influential guitar player Robbie Robertson had passed away at the age of 80.

The guitarist/songwriter left an indelible mark on the music world, and through his work with the Band – both when they backed Bob Dylan and embarked on their own extraordinary career – helped shape the sound of popular Americana music (despite his Canadian heritage).

Though he was present for some of music’s most memorable moments throughout the decades – including Bob Dylan’s infamous Manchester Free Trade Hall show in 1966 – Robertson’s talents spanned far beyond the fretboard, with the versatile musician building a celebrated portfolio in the film score industry.

Following his passing, musicians, creatives and world leaders alike have all flocked to social media to pay tribute to Robertson and his profound legacy.

Film director Martin Scorsese, who worked with Robertson on his upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon – as well as many of his previous classics, such as King of Comedy and The Wolf of Wall Street – led the tributes, writing in an emotional statement to Pitchfork, “It goes without saying that he was a giant, that his effect on the art form was profound and lasting. 

“There’s never enough time with anyone you love,” he added. “And I loved Robbie.”

On social media, Jason Isbell offered an equally touching tribute, writing, “I think it’s safe to say that without his influence the music we love and the music we make would be very different from what it is.”

Further tributes from Joe Bonamassa, Jimi Hendrix, Stephen Stills, Ringo Starr and more can be found below.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.