Robbie Robertson on The Band's tours with Bob Dylan: The world came around
At several points during my recent conversation with Robbie Robertson in preparation for the profile that appears in Sunday’s Arts & Books section, the former lead guitarist and chief songwriter for the Band brought up that group’s long touring career, including its storied history backing Bob Dylan during his contentious switch from acoustic folkie to plugged-in rocker in the mid-'60s.
Dylan also called on the Band to accompany him when he emerged in 1974 from an eight-year touring hiatus after his near-fatal 1966 motorcycle accident, the result being the celebrated “Before the Flood” tour, which was documented on the double live album that reached No. 3 in Billboard.
When I mentioned how powerful that show was from my vantage point in the audience when the six-week tour concluded at the Forum in Inglewood — I always like to tell people you can see me on the album cover: I'm the one holding up a lighted match — Robertson smiled recalling the accolades that tour generated for both Dylan and the Band.
“We were doing exactly the same thing we’d done on the earlier [Dylan-goes-electric] tour, when people were booing us,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member recalled. “They absolutely hated us….So it good to find out that we were right, and that the world had come around to what we had been doing all along.”
— Randy Lewis
Top photo: Bob Dylan and The Band on Feb. 14, 1974 at the Forum in Inglewood (l-r): Robbie Robertson, Dylan, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm. Credit: Kathleen Ballard / Los Angeles Times.
Center: Cover photo from Bob Dylan & the Band's 1974 live album "Before the Flood."