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Matthew King
Matthew King

The Band __TOP__


The Band was a Canadian-American rock band formed in Toronto, Ontario, in 1967. It consisted of four Canadians and one American: Rick Danko (bass, guitar, vocals, fiddle), Garth Hudson (organ, keyboards, accordion, saxophone), Richard Manuel (piano, drums, vocals), Robbie Robertson (guitar, songwriting, vocals), and Levon Helm (drums, vocals, mandolin, guitar). The Band combined elements of Americana, folk, rock, jazz, country, and R&B, influencing musicians such as George Harrison, Elton John, the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton and Wilco.




The Band



The members of The Band gradually came together in the Hawks, the backing group for Toronto-based rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. Levon Helm began playing with the group in 1957, then became their fulltime drummer after graduating from high school in 1958. Helm journeyed with Hawkins from Arkansas to Ontario, where they were joined by Robertson, Danko, Manuel, and finally Hudson. Latter-day Band member Stan Szelest was also in the group at that time. Hawkins's act was popular in and around Toronto and nearby Hamilton,[11] and he had an effective way of eliminating his musical competition: when a promising band appeared, Hawkins would hire their best musicians for his own group; Robertson, Danko, and Manuel came under Hawkins's tutelage this way.


Robertson later said, "Eventually, [Hawkins] built us up to the point where we outgrew his music and had to leave. He shot himself in the foot, really, bless his heart, by sharpening us into such a crackerjack band that we had to go on out into the world, because we knew what his vision was for himself, and we were all younger and more ambitious musically."[12]


Upon leaving Hawkins, the group was briefly known as the Levon Helm Sextet, with sixth member sax player Jerry Penfound, and then as Levon and the Hawks after Penfound's departure. In 1965, they released a single on Ware Records under the name the Canadian Squires, but they returned as Levon and the Hawks for a recording session for Atco later that year.[13] Also in 1965, Helm and the band met blues singer and harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson. They wanted to record with him, offering to become his backing band, but Williamson died not long after their meeting.


Later in 1965, Bob Dylan hired them for his U.S. tour in 1965 and world tour in 1966.[14] Following the 1966 tour, the group moved with help from Dylan and his manager, Albert Grossman, to Saugerties, New York, where they made the informal 1967 recordings that became The Basement Tapes, the basis for their 1968 debut album, Music from Big Pink. Because they were always "the band" to various frontmen and the locals in Woodstock, Helm said the name "the Band" worked well when the group came into its own.[15][a] The group began performing as the Band in 1968 and went on to release ten studio albums. Dylan continued to collaborate with the Band over the course of their career, including a joint 1974 tour.[17]


After hearing the band play and meeting with Robertson, Dylan invited Helm and Robertson to join his backing band. After two concerts backing Dylan, Helm and Robertson told Dylan of their loyalty to their bandmates and told him that they would continue with him only if he hired all of the Hawks. Dylan accepted and invited Levon and the Hawks to tour with him. The group was receptive to the offer, knowing it could give them the wider exposure they craved. They thought of themselves as a tightly rehearsed rock and rhythm and blues group and knew Dylan mostly from his early acoustic folk and protest music. Furthermore, they had little inkling of how internationally popular Dylan had become.[22]


On July 29, 1966, while on a break from touring, Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident that precipitated his retreat into semi-seclusion in Woodstock, New York.[31] For a while, the Hawks returned to the bar and roadhouse touring circuit, sometimes backing other singers, including a brief stint with Tiny Tim. Dylan invited the Hawks to join him in Woodstock in February 1967,[32] and Danko, Hudson, and Manuel rented a large pink house, which they named "Big Pink", in nearby West Saugerties, New York. The next month (initially without Helm) they commenced recording a much-bootlegged and influential series of demos, initially at Dylan's house in Woodstock and later at Big Pink, which were released partially on LP as The Basement Tapes in 1975 and in full in 2014. A track-by-track review of the bootleg was detailed by Jann Wenner in Rolling Stone, in which the band members were explicitly named and given the collective name "the Crackers".[33] While Helm was not involved in the initial recording, he did perform in later sessions and in overdubs recorded in 1975 before the album's release.


The sessions with Dylan ended in October 1967, with Helm having rejoined the group by that time, and the Hawks began writing their own songs at Big Pink. When they went into the recording studio, they still did not have a name for themselves. Stories vary as to the manner in which they ultimately adopted the name "the Band". In The Last Waltz, Manuel claimed that they wanted to call themselves either "the Honkies" or "the Crackers" (which they used when backing Dylan for a January 1968 concert tribute to Woody Guthrie), but these names were vetoed by their record label; Robertson suggests that during their time with Dylan everyone just referred to them as "the band" and the name stuck. Initially they disliked the moniker, but eventually they grew to like it, thinking it both humble and presumptuous. In 1969, Rolling Stone referred to them as "the band from Big Pink".[34]


Following their second album, the Band embarked on their first tour as a lead act. The anxiety of fame was clear, as the group's songs turned to darker themes of fear and alienation: the influence on their next work is self-explanatory. Stage Fright (1970) was engineered by musician-engineer-producer Todd Rundgren and recorded on a theatre stage in Woodstock. As with their previous, self-titled record, Robertson was credited with most of the songwriting. Initial critical reaction was good but it was seen as a letdown from the previous two albums for various reasons. After recording Stage Fright, the Band was among the acts participating in the Festival Express, an all-star rock concert tour of Canada by train that also included Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and future Band member Richard Bell (at the time he was a member of Joplin's band). In the concert documentary film, released in 2003, Danko can be seen participating in a drunken jam session with Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Joplin while singing "Ain't No More Cane".


The Band was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the 1989 Juno Awards, where Robertson was reunited with original members Danko and Hudson. With Canadian country rock superstars Blue Rodeo as a back-up band, Music Express called the 1989 Juno appearance a symbolic "passing of the torch" from the Band to Blue Rodeo.


In the late 1970s and 1980s, Helm released several solo albums and toured with a band called Levon Helm and the RCO Allstars. He also began an acting career with his role as Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter. Helm received praise for his narration and supporting role opposite Sam Shepard in 1983's The Right Stuff. In 1997, a CD by Levon Helm and the Crowmatix, Souvenir, was released.[61] Beginning sometime in the 1990s, Helm regularly performed Midnight Ramble concerts at his home and studio in Woodstock, New York, and toured.[62] In 2007 Helm released a new album, an homage to his southern roots called Dirt Farmer, which was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album on February 9, 2008. Electric Dirt followed in 2009 and won the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. His 2011 live album Ramble at the Ryman won in the same category.[63]


In 2012, Jim Weider launched the Weight Band, performing covers of the Band's music, alongside former members of the Levon Helm Band and Rick Danko Group. The Weight Band performed in a nationally broadcast PBS special, Infinity Hall Live,[64] featuring new music. Following the show, the band announced a self-titled album of new music. The Weight Band also hosts Camp Cripple Creek, which celebrates the legacy of the Woodstock Sound. Past guests have included Jackie Greene, Music from Big Pink producer John Simon and John Sebastian.[65]


The album Music from Big Pink, in particular, is credited with contributing to Clapton's decision to leave the supergroup Cream. In his introduction of the Band during the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert, Clapton announced that in 1968 he had heard the album, "and it changed my life."[79] The band Nazareth took their name from a line in "The Weight". Guitarist Richard Thompson has acknowledged the album's influence on Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief, and journalist John Harris has suggested that the Band's debut also influenced the spirit of the Beatles' back-to-basics album Let It Be as well as the Rolling Stones' string of roots-infused albums that began with Beggars Banquet.[80][c] George Harrison said that his song "All Things Must Pass" was heavily influenced by the Band and that, while writing the song, he imagined Levon Helm singing it.[81] Meanwhile, the Music from Big Pink song "The Weight" has been covered numerous times, and in various musical styles. In a 1969 interview, Robbie Robertson remarked on the group's influence, "We certainly didn't want everybody to go out and get a banjo and a fiddle player. We were trying to calm things down a bit though. What we're going to do now is go to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and record four sides, four psychedelic songs. Total freak-me songs. Just to show that we have no hard feelings. Just pretty good rock and roll."[82]


In the 1990s, a new generation of bands influenced by the Band began to gain popularity, including Counting Crows, the Wallflowers, and the Black Crowes. Counting Crows indicated this influence with their tribute to the late Richard Manuel, "If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead)", from their album Hard Candy. The Black Crowes frequently cover songs by the Band during live performances, such as "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", which appears on their DVD/CD Freak 'n' Roll into the Fog.[83] They have also recorded at Helm's studio in Woodstock. 041b061a72


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