The Band played their legendary farewell concert, The Last Waltz, 40 years ago on Thanksgiving Day at an old ice-skating rink/concert venue in San Francisco called the Winterland Ballroom. The who’s who of attendees included Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan among many others, and Martin Scorsese made a movie out of the experience. The Last Waltz is still considered by many to be not just the end of the Band, but also a marker of the beginning of the end of classic rock.
The Band’s guitarist, Robbie Robertson, looks back on the experience in an interview with NPR for his memoir Testimony.
We had to play 21 songs with other artists, going from Muddy Waters to Joni Mitchell. We played this five-hour concert and we didn’t make a mistake.
Robertson also talks about how the Band was booed from city to city in their early touring years, Scorsese’s capture of the concert for film, and how the Band settled on their simple but iconic name. Listen to the interview in full below along with concert footage and clips from Scorsese’s film.