Go behind the scenes at The Last Waltz: ‘It was so exciting, very exciting’

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A behind-the-scenes image from the Band’s 1976 rehearsals from The Last Waltz is part of an on-going exhibit of photographs by Pattie Boyd at the San Francisco Art Exchange. Boyd, the ex-wife of Eric Clapton, arrived early to shoot after the guitarist was invited to take part in the Band’s gala event, which later became a film and multi-album release.

“It was so exciting, very exciting,” Boyd tells the Examiner of The Last Waltz. “Eric was on tour and I suppose Robbie Robertson wrote and got in touch with him and asked if he’d like to join in. And so he came to San Francisco. It was lovely to be there and see everybody. I only took a few shots.”

Boyd had not been to the Bay Area since making a celebrated visit with George Harrison, who she’d earlier been married to. (The couple was quickly mobbed by a group of Summer of Love-era hippies at Golden Gate Park.) Clapton later wrote a song about his unrequited love for Boyd, the title track from 1970’s Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, before she became Clapton’s wife.

Fast forward six years, and Eric Clapton took the stage for The Last Waltz at Winterland to perform “All Our Past Times” and “Further On Up The Road.” At one point, as he began his first solo, Clapton’s guitar strap came unfastened — and he can clearly be seen mouthing the word “fuck” as his Stratocaster almost falls to the stage floor. Luckily, Robbie Robertson deftly picked up the solo — creating a signature moment in The Last Waltz.

Clapton later inducted the Band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, praising their “integrity and a standard of craft that really didn’t bow down to any kind of commerciality — and I really identified with that, and I adored it.”

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