Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In this captivating memoir, Robbie Robertson shares the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. It's the story of a time when rock 'n' roll became life, when music legends moved through the same streets and hotel rooms, and above all, the profound friendship among five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.
Robertson and his partners in The Band fashioned a music that has endured for decades, influencing countless musicians. One of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of his time, now he employs his storyteller's voice to weave together the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. It's the story of a time when rock 'n' roll became life, when music legends moved through the same streets and hotel rooms, and above all, the profound friendship among five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.
Publisher: New York : Crown Archetype, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307889782
Branch Call Number: 782.4216 ROBERTS
Characteristics: 500 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 12, 2019

It's always sad when the Levon Helm cult followers show up on comment threads to disparage Robbie Robertson. No, you do not need to read This Wheel's on Fire to get "both sides of the story." Robertson was The Band's principle songwriter and eventually the only songwriter after Richard Manuel stopped writing. No one disagrees with that, but if there were any doubt then Robertson's five solo albums should put it to rest. After The Band re-formed in 1983 without Robertson, they recorded three more albums without their own original songs, seeming to indicate they didn't have a songwriter. The dispute was over publishing rights, who got bought out, was it above board, and who got mad about it years later (hint: the drummer.)

Robbie Robertson is a poet, composer, guitar hero, and a hell of a storyteller both in lyrics and prose. Testimony chronicles his unusual life story from childhood through The Last Waltz concert in 1976. It's a great read, interesting, funny, and authentic.

Aug 09, 2017

I think the comment by "bwinlr" nails it (see below).

The signing over of song writing credits by the others is made out to have come about in a totally above-board manner by Robbie Robertson's telling of the story. But that sure isn't the sense that I got from Levon's book, or in the fact that the band members became, to varying degrees, estranged from RR.

There's no doubting Robbie Robertson's genius as a songwriter -- & as a guitartist, too. The Band's music was important and unique because of him. But for me they were truly distinct as a band because, as compared to so many other groups, The Band's music at its finest could be so magically much greater than any of its individual parts.

Mark_Daly May 29, 2017

Robertson's guitar skills and transparent ambition earned him a front-row seat to the flowering of rock in the 1960s and 1970s. By age 18, he had already met scores of rockabilly and blues greats while touring relentlessly with front man and old-style rocker Ronnie Hawkins. His subsequent encounters with Dylan, Hendrix, and the Beatles -- not to mention Jack Ruby, Allen Ginsberg, Tiny Tim, Carly Simon, Marlon Brando, Henry Miller, several Canadian gangsters and con men, plus one glorious afternoon with Sonny Boy Williamson -- here have the air of well-rehearsed tales, but it's nice to see them strung together. Without drawing undue attention to it, Robertson also takes pains to present his side of the financial and management disputes that his bandmates aired in earlier accounts. The story wraps up shortly after The Last Waltz, making clear that nothing has equaled the intensity of these years in Robertson's long career.

May 22, 2017

In this account of "The Band", Robertson does not reveal too much or address pubic controversies. Regardless, he is a great musician and songwriter who captured the zeitgeist of an age and went on after "The Band" to create some very beautiful music.

Apr 11, 2017

"Testimony" is a book that needs to be read in conjunction with Levon Helm's 1993 "This Wheel's On Fire" in order to get an accurate perspective on The Band's career. The two books provide very different views, and the truth likely lies somewhere in between.

With The Band, Mr. Robertson was a very talented guitarist and songwriter. He was also very ambitious and a "social climber" of impressive dimensions. Mr.Helm was the drummer and one of the vocalists for the group, and much more of pure musician uninterested in political maneuverings.

Reading Mr. Robertson's book, one comes away wondering if he was born in Nazereth of a virgin birth. He suggests strongly that he was the main creative force in the band, and that the others were simply very talented accompanists to him.

Mr. Helm paints quite a different picture of Mr. Robertson, i.e., with the beginning of the end occurring with their first album, when Mr. Robertson claimed exclusive songwriting credit for most of the songs to their surprise. This pattern continued, despite the fact that the development of their songs seemed to occur in a collegial manner, with various band members contributing words and imagery to the songs. Those contributions went largely uncredited.

For me, the most telling thing about Mr. Robertson's book is the timing of its publication: 2016. Mr. Helm's book was published in 1993. Then Mr. Helm, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko died in the interim, so there was no one left alive (except for the reclusive Garth Hudson) to question Mr. Robertson's highly self-serving account of history. That suggests to me that Mr. Helm's book might be the more credible one of the two.

Mar 13, 2017

The first half of this book is an engaging read, with a strong narrative drive... Full of strange and sometimes wonderful anecdotes about Robertson's strange and wonderfully charmed life (music, close criminal relations, backdoor sex... later drugs) and the open-minded, free-spirited, multi-influenced (Delta blues, Chicago blues, rockabilly, country, hillbilly and gospel) early years of r&r, notably, of the American southeast and Toronto scenes. However, the story bogs down, shortly after Robertson and (most of) the rest of the Hawks hook up with Bob Dylan in 1965. Robertson's musings become repetitive and tiresome, especially since what passes for introspection lacks real depth.

Jan 08, 2017

Testimony is a rollicking, freewheeling account of Robbie Robertson's formative years as a musician, rising from his rock-a-billy roots playing neighbouring small halls to the glorious final concert of The Band. It is a series of well crafted tales chronicling a wealth of characters, crime and cocaine as Robertson navigates life (his first half anyway) on the road. I'm sure he has a storehouse of stories that will make for an interesting document of the last forty years.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SCCLD

To Top