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New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

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Robbie Robertson on Playing Jack Ruby’s Nightclub: “You Could Smell Danger In The Air”

When Robbie Robertson was in the red chair he told George about having played in a Forth Worth, Texas nightclub run by Jack Ruby, the man who murdered President John F. Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

"You could smell danger in the air in this thing," said Robertson, describing the club.

The danger, though, would come from an unexpected source. The band members armed themselves and stayed in the venue overnight to guard their equipment because, he says, venue staff wouldn't guarantee its safety. That's when they heard a strange noise.

"The two of us, Rick Danko and me, we're sitting there, we're playing cards and we heard this weird scratching and the sound," said Robertson. "And Rick picked up the gun and said, 'I don't know what that is but I'm gonna shoot somebody if they come in here.'

"And it was dogs. Police dogs. And they were scratching the floor. And the cops were coming in. Rick was pointing a gun at them when they came around the corner.

"And they said, 'You boys are lucky we didn't let these dogs go because they would've eaten up your ass.' 

"And Rick said, 'No, they wouldn't," waving the gun in his hand."

credits

CBC Archives - Photos/Videos
Canadian Press / Reuters Photos
Saturday Night Live: Season Two: Buck Henry/The Band (1976) - National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Productions
The Last Waltz (1978) - FM Productions, Last Waltz Inc.
Ronnie Hawkins - Publicist
Bob Dylan & The Band: Down In The Flood (2012) - Sexy Intellectual Production
Legends, Icons & Rebels (2013) - Tundra Books, Random House Canada, Sound It Out
Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll (1987) - Delilah Films
'Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2012 Induction Ceremony' (2012) - Playtone Productions, Home Box Office (HBO)
Eat The Document (1972) - American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Pennebaker Associates