Robbie Robertson: The KCRW Live Sessions

By Myke Dodge Weiskopf and Andrea Domanick

Robbie Roberston at KCRW. Photo by Christopher Ho.

The late Robbie Robertson, lead songwriter and guitarist for The Band, Bob Dylan guitarist, and formidable solo artist in his own right, was one of KCRW’s most venerable musical guests, a welcome presence on Morning Becomes Eclectic from the ‘80s onward, until his final appearance in 2020.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Grammy nominee was instrumental in creating the Americana music genre and was a frequent collaborator with the likes of Martin Scorcese, but his intelligence, insight, and gift for storytelling were often what made the greatest impact when he was within the halls of KCRW. Often on the other side of the mic was Chris Douridas, who came to know Robertson as a guest, then collaborator, and ultimately a friend.  

“It was always best to pre-record our conversations at KCRW because his stories were epic, often long and winding, but always gold,” says Douridas. “Microphones adored that voice of his. We had a no smoking policy at the station, but I recall only two exceptions over the years: Joni Mitchell and Robbie. The swirl of his Cuban cigar smoke always gave a fireside vibe to his visits. How he got those cigars, he never let on. 

“Then, when I went to DreamWorks Records in the late ‘90s, we became colleagues on the A&R team. Robbie, always dressed in black, brought gravitas to every meeting, every lunch we shared. So grateful to have known him.”

In celebration of Robertson’s life and rich artistic legacy, KCRW has collected a selection of his performances and conversations over the years. That includes a newly unearthed MBE session with Chris Douridas on October 4, 1994, during which Robertson stopped by to discuss his then-new release, Music for The Native Americans. The album featured music composed by Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble for the six-hour TV documentary series of the same name.

Robertson was joined in the KCRW performance studio by members of Red Road and the Native American vocal group Ulali. He also shares a previously-unheard tape of a remix/collaboration with Michael Adam Kandel, a.k.a. Tranquility Bass.

This session comes from the KCRW performance archive and hasn’t been heard since its original broadcast. Listen in in the player, and revisit Robertson’s KCRW sessions below. 


Robbie Robertson on fame, God, and American mythology (MBE, 12/14/1987)
Unheard since its original 1987 broadcast, discover the first of Robbie Robertson’s many sessions with KCRW. He goes deep with Tom Schnabel following the release of his debut solo LP.

Robbie Robertson Live on MBE, 3/11/2020
Legendary performer Robbie Robertson visits Morning Becomes Eclectic to chat about the new documentary "Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band" and share tracks from his latest album Sinematic.

Robbie Robertson Live on MBE, 11/28/2016
Singer and guitarist Robbie Robertson visits Morning Becomes Eclectic to talk about the lasting influence of the iconic concert film The Last Waltz, which was released 40 years ago. He'll also discuss his own lasting influence, commemorated with the release of his autobiography Testimony, and a companion album of the same name.

Robbie Robertson Live on MBE, 5/6/2011
Music legend Robbie Robertson showcases tracks from his first full length in 13 years, How to Become Clairvoyant, when he stops by Morning Becomes Eclectic in the 10 o'clock hour.

Robbie Robertson Live on MBE, 11/3/2005
Robbie Robertson joins Nic Harcourt in conversation about the Band box set A Musical History, the Raging Bull soundtrack, and a reissue of his first two solo albums, among other projects.

Robbie Robertson Live on MBE, 3/17/1998
Robbie Robertson and full band perform work including material from his CD entitled "Contact From The Underworld of Red Boy.”