As you may know I love “The Last Waltz”. Here are a few fun facts (courtesy of Wikipedia) about the greatest concert of all time.
The musical director for the concert was The Band’s original record producer, John Simon
Jonathan Taplin, who was The Band’s tour manager from 1969-1972 and later produced Scorsese’s film Mean Streets, suggested that Scorsese would be the ideal director for the project and introduced Robbie Robertson and Scorsese
At one point, all the cameras except László Kovács’ were shut down as Muddy Waters was to perform “Mannish Boy”. Kovács, frustrated by Scorsese’s constant instructions, had removed his communications headset earlier in the evening and had not heard the orders to stop filming. As Scorsese frantically tried to get other cameras up, Kovács was already rolling and able to capture the iconic song by the blues legend.
Notably omitted from the film is Stephen Stills, who only performed in a jam session. Both jam sessions were omitted from the film entirely.
While Bob Dylan had agreed to perform in concert, he did not want his appearance filmed because he feared it would detract from his own film project Renaldo and Clara. Warner Bros. had agreed to finance the filming of The Last Waltz with the understanding that Dylan would be involved in the film and soundtrack. Backstage negotiations took place during an intermission
Scorsese has admitted that during this period, he was using cocaine heavily. Drugs were present in large quantities during the concert. A large blob of cocaine hanging from Neil Young’s nose was edited out in post-production.
Here’s the last song The Band played together, a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Baby, Don’t You Do It”. Happy Thanksgiving!
UPDATE: A re-creation of The Last Waltz is going on at The Warfield in San Francisco this Saturday. Unfortuantely it’s not the same price as in 1976 and a turkey dinner will not be served…but still, road trip!