On Thanksgiving Day in 1976, the legendary rock group The Band (Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel) took the stage for the very last time at the Winterland Theatre in San Francisco. Produced by accomplished rock promoter Bill Graham, the concert was billed as The Last Waltz, perhaps as a final statement on what is arguably the most powerful and innovative era in rock history. With an intricate 300 page shooting script, director Martin Scorsese, director of photography Michael Chapman, and a team of seven cameramen recorded the landmark live event for the first-ever 35mm feature length concert documentary.
When it opened in 1978, The Last Waltz was called “the most prestigious collection of rock stars ever assembled for a single show” by The Los Angeles Times. With Rick Danko on bass; Garth Hudson on the organ; Levon Helm on drums; Richard Manuel at the piano and Robbie Robertson on guitar, The Band was joined onstage by Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Ronnie Hawkins (with whom The Band got their start 17 years before), Ringo Starr and Ron Wood, among others.
The Last Waltz Preview