Robbie Robertson's no-fuss career frustrates fans

Thu Apr 7, 2011 4:49pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If an earthquake ever strikes Robbie Robertson's recording studio in West Los Angeles, a lot of priceless guitars would face ruin.

Among the instruments precariously suspended along the walls are an exceedingly rare 1928 Martin acoustic and the bronze Stratocaster that he played on "The Last Waltz," the film documenting the final show of his group The Band in 1976.

Frustrated fans wonder if Robertson sports a similar carefree attitude to his legacy. He refuses to tour, and has recorded just five underappreciated solo albums. The latest, "How To Become Clairvoyant," came out this week 13 years after his previous effort.

Robertson has also composed movie music for his pal Martin Scorsese, and worked as an executive at DreamWorks Records. He says his endeavors have all been stimulating, requiring him to become an instant expert on many genres of music and film.

But the Canadian native doesn't really live down to the standards expected of an iconic rock star.

"I just do what I like to do," he told Reuters in a recent interview at the studio. "And I like to stay out of the way too. I don't like all of the fuss."

Aficionados still yearn for the good old days when The Band made groundbreaking folk-rock records like "Music From Big Pink" and brought out the best in Bob Dylan. Robertson has been eclipsed in recent years by his estranged Band-mate Levon Helm, who managed to make two Grammy-winning albums while recovering from throat cancer.