In July, The Band appear before an estimated 650,000 people (the largest rock concert in history) at the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, a festival in upstate New York. Sharing the bill are The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead.
On the heels of their studio collaboration, Bob and The Band decide to hit the road together. Ticket demand for the 40 show / 21 city tour is one of highest in rock music history; tickets were sold by mail-order only and promoter Bill Graham claims mail-order requests exceed twelve million, though only about a half-million seats are available for the shows.
Released in June, The Basement Tapes is a studio album by Bob Dylan and The Band. It consists of sixteen Dylan compositions and eight by the Band. The Dylan tracks were recorded in 1967 in the basement of Big Pink, a house shared by three of the members of the Band, while the Band tracks were recorded at various times and locations between 1967 and 1975.
The Basement Tapes peaked at #7 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart and reached #8 in the UK. In 2003, the album would be ranked at #291 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Robbie produces Neil Diamond’s album, Beautiful Noise. It marks a radical departure in production, style, arrangements and compositional diversity for Diamond and is considered by many to be his finest all around album.
Islands, The Band’s final studio album with Robertson is released in March. It features “Christmas Must Be Tonight” and “Knockin’ Lost John,” Robertson’s first lead vocal since “To Kingdom Come” on Music From Big Pink.
The Last Waltz documentary by Martin Scorsese is released as is the album of the same name. The film has been hailed as one of the greatest concert films ever made.
For another Scorsese film, King Of Comedy (released in 1983), Robertson serves as music producer, assembling tunes by The Pretenders, Talking Heads, Ray Charles and Rickie Lee Jones. He also contributes with his first post-Band solo recording, “Between Trains.” In addition, the soundtrack includes Van Morrison’s “Wonderful Remark,” for which Robbie produced and played guitar.
Robbie Robertson, the self-titled solo debut by Robbie, is released in October. Members of U2 and Peter Gabriel are just a few of the many notable artists contributing to the album. The debut peaked at #38 on both the Billboard 200 and UK Album Charts while it’s singles peak even higher on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Track chart (“Somewhere Down the Crazy River” at #24, “Sweet Fire of Love” at #7 and “Shadow at Big Sky” at #2).
The track “Broken Arrow” would be covered by Rod Stewart on his 1991 album Vagabond Heart. The song would reach #20 in the Billboard Hot 100 that year, as well as #3 on Billboard Adult Contemporary Track chart.
At the Juno Awards (the Canadian version of the Grammy’s), Roberton’s self-titled solo debut wins Album Of The Year; Robertson and Daniel Lanois earn Producer Of The Year; and Robertson is awarded Best Male Vocalist. In addition to Robertson’s virtual Juno sweep, The Band is also inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame. He reunites with The Band (minus Helm) for the first time in a dozen years with a performance at the awards.