On today’s date in 1967, Bob Dylan and The Band started recording the long-unreleased sessions that would eventually become known as The Basement Tapes.
In 2011, Canada Post featured The Band guitarist Robbie Robertson on a multi-coloured Permanent-rate stamp (CS Scott # 2481) as part of the third installment of its Canadian Recording Artists issue. Printed by the Lowe-Martin Group on Tullis Russell coated paper, the stamp has 12.5 perforations and general tagging along each side.
The Robertson stamp shared the spotlight with four other outstanding Canadian singer-songwriters, including Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Bruce Cockburn, and Ginette Reno. More than one million of each stamp were released.
“We’re proud to be able to add one more honour to Robbie Robertson’s long list of accolades,” said Jim Phillips, director of stamp services for Canada Post. “It’s an honour for us to be able to pay tribute to such a prolific and talented artist.”
Robertson’s stamp features a photograph taken by David Jordan Williams in 1994 as part of the sessions for his music project, “Music for the Native Americans”. Winnipeg design firm Circle Design produced the stamps for the series, which features monochromatic photos of each recording artist alongside their Order of Canada insignia.
“It never crossed my mind that one day I would be asked to be featured on a Canadian stamp. It is a lovely and proud surprise,” said Robertson.
Robertson honed his sound as a young man in the early 1960s as the guitarist for Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks. In 1965, The Hawks went on to back up Bob Dylan on his groundbreaking Going Electric world tour. After the tour, The Hawks settled in Woodstock, N.Y., becoming The Band and releasing the legendary debut album Music from Big Pink. Robertson went on to pen multiple classics, and work on many films with Martin Scorsese, including Raging Bull, Casino, The Departed, The Color Of Money, Gangs Of New York, Shutter Island, and The Last Waltz.
Released in June 1975 by Bob Dylan and The Band, The Basement Tapes feature Dylan’s vocals, which were recorded in 1967 – eight years before the album’s eventual release – at houses in and around Woodstock. Although most of the Dylan songs had appeared on bootleg records, The Basement Tapes marked their first official release together. For some critics, the album’s songs, which circulated widely in unofficial form, mounted a major stylistic challenge to rock music in the late ’60s.
Robertson has received honorary doctorates from York and Queens Universities, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Academy of Songwriters (1997), the Native American Music Awards (1998), and the Aboriginal Achievement Awards (2003). He has also won numerous Juno Awards and, as a member of The Band, was inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and received The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, Robertson received the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, and in 2011, he received the Order of Canada.