The Last Waltz

1978 concert by the Band directed by Martin Scorsese

The Last Waltz is a 1978 musical documentary film about The Band and its farewell concert, held on American Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.

Directed by Martin Scorsese.
It started as a concert. It became a celebration. Now it's a legend. taglines

Robbie Robertson

  • [To the audience as he's coming out for an encore after a lengthy night of playing] You're still there, huh?
  • The Band had been together for 16 years together on the road. We played eight years in bars, dives and dancehalls, eight years in concerts, stadiums and arenas. We did our last concert. We called it The Last Waltz.
  • Winterland was the first place The Band played as The Band. Some friends showed up and helped us take it home.
  • [Talking about getting a job playing with Ronnie Hawkins] He called me up, and I said, "Sure I'd like a job. What does it mean? What do I do?" And he said, "Well, son, you won't make much money, but you'll get more pussy than Frank Sinatra."
  • The music took us to some strange places ... physically, spiritually, psychotically. It just wasn't always on stage.

Richard Manuel

  • We started out with The Crackers. Tried to call ourselves The Honkies. Everybody sort of backed off. It was too straight. So we decided call ourselves The Band.
  • I just want to break even.

Garth Hudson

  • There is the view that jazz is evil because it comes from evil people, but the greatest priests on 52nd Street and on the streets of New York were the musicians. They were doing the greatest healing work. They knew how to punch through music which would cure and make people feel good.

Rick Danko

  • Happy Thanksgiving!
  • We always seemed to get a whole lot more done when we didn't have a lot of company around. We were more productive. And as soon as company came, of course, we'd start having fun. You know what happens when you have too much fun.

Levon Helm

  • People ask me about The Last Waltz all the time. Rick Danko dying at fifty-six is what I think about The Last Waltz. It was the biggest fuckin' rip-off that ever happened to The Band—without a doubt.
Foreword to This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band, p. 312 (Chicago Review Press, 2000); on the book, Helm says that his bandmate died because he "worked himself to death", and that he, Danko, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel never received any money for the various home videos, DVDs and soundtracks released by Warner Bros. after the project.

John Simon (producer)

  • I'm pretty sure that Levon [Helm] is the only honest, live element in The Last Waltz, with the exception of Muddy Water's vocal. Everything else was overdubbed and redone. Levon was basically gone, because he was disgusted with certain of the business practices. Robbie asked him to do his part over again, but Levon had nothing to do with it.
  • Robbie was right in that there were some good reasons for overdubbing the whole thing. Richard wasn't singing well, Rick's bass was out of tune, and Robbie wanted to improve his guitar solos. Also, the horns were recorded completely out of balance and had to be redone in New York with arrangements Henry Glove and I put together.
This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band (Chicago Review Press, 2000)


  • Opening title card: This film should be played loud!
  • Eric Clapton: [After his guitar strap comes loose during a solo] Hold on!


Robbie Robertson: Okay look, we've been together 16 years.
Martin Scorsese: Who?
Robbie Robertson: Who? The Band. Do you want me to plug that in there?
Martin Scorsese: Let's do that again.

Neil Young: Hey, Rob, thanks for letting me do this.
Robbie Robertson: Shit! Are you kidding?

[Martin Scorsese is asking Levon Helm about his home state, Arkansas, and his musical influences]
Levon Helm: Bluegrass and country music ... if it comes down into that area and if it mixes there with the rhythm and if it dances, then you've got a combination of all that music ...
[Martin Scorsese': What's it called?
Levon Helm: Rock and roll.


  • It started as a concert. It became a celebration. Now it's a legend.


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