By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rocker Robbie Robertson is about to add "author" to his lengthy list of professional activities.
The former frontman for The Band said he will start penning his memoirs in a few months following a couple of aborted attempts with ghost writers. The Canadian rocker hopes the book will come out within two years through Random House.
"I'm very excited about doing it," Robertson told Reuters, while getting ready for the April 5 release of his first solo album in 13 years. "I just have to roll up my sleeves, get a cabin in the woods and do it properly."
He said he considered collaborating on the project with highly regarded writers on three separate occasions. But it quickly dawned on the raconteur that he could do a better job of telling his stories about the rise and fall of The Band, and his work with the likes of Bob Dylan and Martin Scorsese.
Not only will it be a solo endeavor, but he is also leaving untouched a hefty pile of memoirs by the likes of Dylan, Keith Richards, Patti Smith and former bandmate Levon Helm.
"I keep thinking, is it good for me to look at these, or is there just a pure innocence about me just going into this? I don't know if I want to know what somebody else did in their thing. But I do have a structure that I've started to sort out in mind."
One book he has read, or at least the first 30 pages of it, was British author Barney Hoskyns' 1993 biography about The Band, "Across The Great Divide." Robertson said he was too busy at the time to guide Hoskyns, and when he finally got around to cracking open the tome he discovered it was "very imaginative and random, and it wasn't what happened at all."
In the meantime, his new album "How To Become Clairvoyant" serves as a good appetizer for the memoir because it boasts a selection of heavily autobiographical tunes.
These include "When The Night Was Young," about the Band's glory days, and "This is Where I Get Off," about his decision to quit the group in 1976. Eric Clapton, who plays on seven songs, was his muse for "He Don't Live Here No More," a song about surviving the druggy excesses of 1970s.
Robertson, now 67, said he will promote the album "tastefully," but has no plans to tour.
He bade farewell to that life when he left The Band, and has spent the ensuing decades recording five solo albums, overseeing Band reissue projects, handling the music on many Scorsese films, and even working as what was called a "creative plenipotentiary" at the now-defunct DreamWorks Records.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant)