The idea for a farewell concert came about early in 1976 after Richard Manuel was seriously injured in a boating accident. Robbie Robertson then began giving thought to leaving the road, envisioning The Band becoming a studio-only band, similar to the Beatles' decision to stop playing live shows in 1966.
Robertson wanted the concert to be a kind of celebration, the end of a chapter and though the other band members did not agree with Robertson's decision, the concert was set at Bill Graham's Winterland Ballroom, where The Band had made its debut as a group in 1969. Originally, The Band was to perform on its own, but then the notion of inviting Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan was hatched and the guest list grew to include other performers. Robertson wanted to invite people who had been a strong influence on their music, people who represented various music styles, including New Orleans rock and roll, English blues, and Chicago blues. When he called Bill Graham, he said he wanted
This wild pre-concert poster was designed by Bob Cato, using a collage by French surrealist Georges Hugnet and lettering by Michael Manoogian.
Bob Cato was born in 1923 and in 1959 he began working in the music industry at Columbia Records, becoming vice president of creative services there and later at United Artists. During the next 20 years, he designed and oversaw hundreds of albums for dozens of artists, forging lasting relationships with many, including The Band so it was only natural that they aske him to design the poster. Manoogian had been spotted as a promising artist by Cato who then introduced him “all over town” in the music industry in LA until he became one of the “logo-ist to the Stars”
Born in 1906, Georges Hugnet was a French graphic artist, poet, writer, art historian, bookbinding designer, critic and film director. Hugnet was a figure in the Dada movement and Surrealism and he is best known for his surreal photo collages, like this one in the poster.