Bob Dylan Honors “Lifelong Friend” Robbie Robertson: “His Passing Leaves a Vacancy in the World”

Bob Dylan has shared a statement on the passing of Robbie Robertson, The Band guitarist who backed Dylan during his legendary electric period.

“This is shocking news,” Dylan said. “Robbie was a lifelong friend. His passing leaves a vacancy in the world.”

Dylan and Robertson met in 1965, and Dylan quickly hired The Hawks — the original name of The Band — to perform as his backing band. In 1965 and 1966, Dylan performed two sets on tour: one of the acoustic folk music that made him famous, and one set, featuring The Hawks, that signified his controversial progression toward electric guitar.

In 1967, The Hawks joined Dylan in Woodstock, New York to work on new music. These sessions formed the basis of The Band’s 1968 record Music from Big Pink, and recordings featuring Dylan later appeared on 1975’s The Basement Tapes. Following their debut as The Band, Robertson and company redirected their attention to their own music, but in 1974, they reunited with Dylan to record Planet Waves. Another joint tour in support of the LP spawned the double live album Before the Flood that same year.

Joni Mitchell, Steven Van Zandt, Neil Diamond, Jason Isbell, and more were among the other artists to honor Robertson, who passed away this week following a long illness. At a recent show in Chicago, Bruce Springsteen paid tribute to the artist by performing “I’ll See You in My Dreams” in his honor.

Revisit our tribute to Robertson here, and listen to his appearance on the Kyle Meredith With… podcast from 2019 below.