40 years ago today, The Last Waltz concert by The Band, was filmed by a young Martin Scorsese in San Francisco. It was their farewell concert, and featured an all-star cast of performers who wanted to say goodbye—including Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Van Morrison, and Bob Dylan. The concert, later released as a 3-CD set, took place on Thanksgiving at an old ice-skating rink called the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, lasted five hours–and no one made a mistake. WATCH the encore… (1976)
Concert promoter Bill Graham presented the concert on Thanksgiving Day and fed the 5,000 audience members a feast, while a waltz orchestra serenaded them. The Band, which featured mostly Canadians, included Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko, would never record again. Robbie Robertson authored a new book, entitled Testimony, recalling the days he spent with the group.
The Scorsese film, which has been called the greatest concert film ever shot, begins with the Band performing the last encore of the evening, a cover version of Marvin Gaye’s “Don’t Do It”. It then flashes back to the beginning of the concert and follows it more or less chronologically, including the backstage banter. The Band is backed by a large horn section and performs many of its hit songs, including “Up on Cripple Creek,” “Stage Fright,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” (Watch the encore of Dylan’s I Shall Be Released—performed with everyone on stage…)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- The Statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina was re-established in Yugoslavia (1943)
- Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opened in London and became the longest continuously-running play in history (1952)
- Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands (1975)
- A Korean Research team announced their use of cord blood stem cells to regrow a spinal cord as patient walks for the first time in 19 years (2004)
And, on this day in 1984, three dozen English musicians gathered in a London studio to record Do They Know It’s Christmas for the sole purpose of raising money to send food to starving families in Ethiopia. Music sales for Band Aid, the world’s first charity super-group raised $14 million. Watch their music video below, starring a young Phil Collins, Sting, Paul McCartney, and Bono, below… and Buy the song on Amazon. (Click to enlarge photo) … Also check out the updated version of the song, by Band-Aid 30, released in early November, 2014 to raise money for the Ebola crisis. Bob Geldof, who originally dreamed up the idea for Band Aid (and later, Live Aid), updated his song “Do They Know…” to describe the Ebola epidemic (See the video on YouTube)… BUY either of these tunes and 100% of the money will go toward helping our friends in Africa.
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