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Robbie Robertson, Martin Scorsese and The Last Waltz

The Story


After years on the road with The Band, guitarist Robbie Robertson was ready to call an end to the relentless pace of live performing. But it was hard to let go, so he came up with the idea of a grand farewell concert and worked up the nerve to ask acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese to film it. The result was The Last Waltz, which has been hailed as one of the greatest concert films ever. In this 1978 interview from CBC's 90 Minutes Live, Robertson and Scorsese explain how the film came together.

Medium: Television
Program: 90 Minutes Live
Broadcast Date: April 14, 1978
Guests: Robbie Robertson, Martin Scorsese
Host: Paul Soles
Duration: 12:25
Footage from The Last Waltz copyright FM Productions and Last Waltz Inc.

Did You know?


• The concert took place in San Francisco on Nov. 25, 1976, which was Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Ticket-buyers, 5,000 of them, paid $25 for an evening that began at 5 p.m. with a turkey dinner, followed by music from the Berkeley Promenade Orchestra. The Band took the stage just after 9 p.m. and - with the exception of a 30-minute break after midnight - played for over five hours, ending their last encore at 2:15 a.m.

• Fellow Canadians Joni Mitchell and Neil Young were guest performers during the concert, as were Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and many others.

• Scorsese, who was paid $150,000 to film the concert, had a crew of 45 working on The Last Waltz. Scorsese had worked on the Woodstock concert film before becoming a well-known director for Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. According to The Globe and Mail of Apr. 18, 1978, Scorsese was reluctant to include background interviews in the film. "This is a music piece, that's all it is. I don't care about the stories, not at all," he said.

 


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