Back in 1976, Martin Scorsese set out to create one of San Francisco’s greatest rock events ever.“The Last Waltz,” was Scorsese’s effort to document some amazing acts that have played in the Bay area as an ode to the last of the good ol’ days and as a tribute to the greatest band you’ve never known: THE Band.
What Scorsese accomplished was one of the best rock documentaries of all time. The SF Chronicle was a partner in the event and a photographer came out to document the day on film but unfortunately when he took the negatives in to be developed, they were lost. Now when I say lost, I mean for lost for decades.
Here’s the synopsis: On Thanksgiving, 1976 at San Francisco’s Winterland theater The Band performs its last concert ever after spending the last 16 years of their lives on the road. A number of guest stars join the legendary band onstage: Ronnie Hawkins (their first boss, when they were the Hawks),Bob Dylan Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Ronnie Wood and Ringo Starr all share the stage at some point. Scorsese’s camera explores not only the show, but the interactions onstage and offstage in the making of music.
So after decades of looking for the lost photos from this magical night all hope was lost until the SF Chronicle were looking for photos of BB King when they noticed some images were not from a B.B. King show. As they looked through the pile of negatives it became clear that they found something special.
They unearthed dozens of shots from the concert all taken by ace Chronicle photographer Gary Fong. The images caught all the magic of the evening including Scorsese giant disco ball and a couple doing the actual last waltz of the evening. Do yourself a favor and watch this documentary. If you love music, this flick will be one of the best you will ever watch.