Robbie Robertson

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Robertson in 2010, photo by PrPhotos

Birth Name: Jaime Royal Robertson

Date of Birth: July 5, 1943

Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Date of Death: August 9, 2023

Place of Death: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

*father – Ashkenazi Jewish
*mother – Mohawk and Cayuga Native Canadian

Robbie Robertson was a Canadian musician, songwriter, film composer, producer, actor, and author. He was lead guitarist and primary songwriter of rock band The Band, and also had an important solo career. His work with The Band was foundational in creating Americana music. Among the songs he wrote were The Band’s “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” and his own “Broken Arrow” and “Somewhere Down the Crazy River.” Other members of The Band included Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel. He also composed and produced music for films, with his work on The Last Waltz beginning his collaboration with Martin Scorsese. He was also a guitarist for Bob Dylan.

Robbie was the son of Rosemarie Myke/Dolly (Chrysler), who worked at the Coro jewellery plating factory, and Alexander David Klegerman, a professional gambler. His father was Ashkenazi Jewish, of Polish Jewish ancestry. His mother was of Mohawk and Cayuga First Nations ancestry. Robbie’s mother was raised on the Six Nations Reserve southwest of Toronto, and later lived in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighborhood. He had said, “My mother was born and raised on the Six Nations Indian Reservation above Lake Erie. And my father was Jewish. How’s that for a combination?”

Robbie was conceived shortly before his mother married James Patrick Robertson. Robbie had believed that James was his biological father, only discovering the truth about Alexander Klegerman when he was in his early teens. Robbie often visited his mother’s reservation, where he was mentored in guitar playing, particularly by his cousin Herb Myke.

Robbie was married to entrepreneur, restaurateur, and Top Chef Canada judge Janet Zuccarini, until his death. He had three children with his former wife, journalist Dominique Bourgeois, including non-fiction children’s author, musician, composer, and studio engineer Sebastian Robertson.

Robbie’s paternal grandfather was named Shmuel Chaim Klegerman (the son of Moshe Menachem Klegerman).

Robbie’s paternal grandmother was Sarah Nagel (the daughter of Lieber Nagel and Blima Raider Gellman). Sarah’s parents were born in Poland. Blima was the daughter of Al Gellman and Rebecca Pasner.


Genealogy of Robbie Robertson (focusing on his father’s side) –

Obituary of Robbie’s mother –

8 Responses

  1. Dar says:

    Very talented musician, love the Band. RIP.

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