Discovered in Mississauga, legendary rocker Robbie Robertson dead at 80

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Published August 9, 2023 at 5:54 pm

Robbie Robertson, the Canadian rocker who died today at age 80, got his big break in the music industry while performing in what was to become Mississauga.

In his 2016 autobiography Testimony, Robertson said he was just a teen when his band opened for the legendary Ronnie Hawkins at old Dixie Arena on Dundas St. and Stanfield Rd.

Impressed with Robertson’s guitar playing and his ability to write tunes, Hawkins, himself an eventual resident of Mississauga, hired the persistent Robertson to become a member of his own “band.”

“I was only fifteen and Ronnie was playing the Dixie Arena in the west end of Toronto; the band I was in, the Suedes, was opening,” Robinson revealed in his book. “We’d been playing around Toronto for a few months, and opening for Ronnie Hawkins was the biggest thing we’d ever done. After that night, I would look at music in a whole different light.”

The rest, as they say, is rock ‘n’ roll history as Hawkins’ “band” evolved into The Band.

Robertson and The Band went on to become backing musicians for Bob Dylan and later broke away to become successful recording artists on their own producing such hits as The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up On Cripple Creek, and The Shape I’m In and appearing at Woodstock in 1969.

Known for his movie star looks as well as his guitar playing, Robertson also began appearing in films during this period.

By the 80s The Band members had gone their separate ways but Robertson returned with a self-titled solo album that produced hits Showdown at Big Sky and Somewhere Down the Crazy River.

Later he delved into scoring films for Martin Scorsese on Raging Bull, The Color of Money and The King of Comedy.

Born in Toronto, died Wednesday (Aug. 9) at his Los Angeles home after a long illness, according to his manager.

 

 

 

 

 

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