FLASHBACK: The Band And Friends Perform 'The Last Waltz'
Tonight marks 36 Thanksgivings ago (November 25th, 1976) that the Band played its most famous concert. Billed as The Last Waltz, the show at Winterland in San Francisco featured the group, along with an all-star guest list, in what became the farewell performance of the original quintet.
Among the friends on the bill that night were Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Ron Wood, Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, and the Staple Singers.
Shortly before his death in 1999, singer-bassist Rick Danko spoke about the Band's decision to break up: "It seemed that it was time to bring it in. Y'know, it seemed like it was time to have a kinda going-out-of-business sale. I didn't really believe that we were putting it away like that -- thought we'd maybe at least release a record a year, but we didn't."
Robbie Robertson also said that the intent of the show was not to break up the Band -- it was meant as a farewell to the road so the musicians could concentrate on recording projects: "What really happened was after The Last Waltz, people had some projects they'd been wanting to do for a while. Everybody was looking forward to the opportunity of just spreading their wings and experimenting in different areas. And everybody drifted off in these different directions, and what happened was -- 'cause that wasn't the idea -- what happened was everybody drifted off and never drifted back."
In 2002, remastered and expanded editions of The Last Waltz, overseen by Robertson, were released on CD, DVD, VHS, and as a theatrical film.
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