The Band

The Band

The members of the Band first came together as they joined rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins' backing group, The Hawks, one by one between 1958 and 1963. Upon leaving Hawkins in 1964, they were briefly known as The Levon Helm Sextet with sax player Jerry Penfound being the sixth member, then Levon and the Hawks after Penfound's departure. In 1965, they released a single on Ware Records under the name Canadian Squires, but returned as Levon and the Hawks for a recording session for Atco later in 1965.[1] At about the same time, Bob Dylan recruited Helm and Robertson for two concerts, then the entire group for his U.S. tour in 1965 and world tour in 1966. They also joined him on the informal recordings that later became The Basement Tapes.Because they were always "the band" to various frontmen, Helm said the name "The Band" worked well when the group came into its own[3] and left Saugerties, New York, to begin recording their own material. They recorded two of the most acclaimed albums of the late 1960s: their 1968 debut Music from Big Pink (featuring the single "The Weight") and 1969's The Band. In 2004, "The Weight" was ranked the 41st best rock song ever in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. The Band broke up in 1976, but reformed in 1983 without founding guitarist Robbie Robertson.
By 1976, Robbie Robertson was weary of touring. After having to cancel some tour dates due to Richard Manuel suffering a severe neck injury in a boating accident in Texas, Robertson urged the Band to retire from touring, and conceived of a massive Thanksgiving Day concert on November 25, 1976 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California.[29] The concert featured a horn section with arrangements by Allen Toussaint and a stellar list of guests, including other Canadian acts Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Two of the guests were fundamental in to The Band's existence and growth: Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan. Other guests they admired (and in most cases had worked with before) included Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Wood, Paul Butterfield, and Neil Diamond.