Skip to comments.TGIF Rock-n-Roll Oldies: The Band 1968
Posted on 11/05/2010 1:24:00 PM PDT by Reaganite Republican
The Band was a highly-acclaimed and influential 60s-70s rock music group originally consisting of Canadians Rick Danko , Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson along with American drummer/singer Levon Helm . All five were notable musicians in their own right, and three lead singers symbolic of the group's bountiful talent...
Original members of The Band first worked together as they joined Toronto-based rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins' backing group -The Hawks- from 1958-63 then onto The Levon Helm Sextet/Levon and the Hawks. They also released a single under the name Canadian Squires, but returned as Levon and the Hawks for a recording session later in 1965.
At about the same time, Bob Dylan recruited Helm and Robertson for two concerts, then the entire group for his '65 US tour/'66 world tour. With Dylan, they played a tumultuous series of concerts marking Dylan's final transition from folkie to full-electric-rocker.
These historic appearances were also met with the heckling of folk purists. The Band was used to an audience looking to have a good time, so being rejected on principle was a bizarre, unexpected experience. Levon Helm was so affected by the negative reception that he left the tour within three months and sat out the rest of that year's concerts, as well as the world tour in 1966... then spending much of this period working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Then in July of 1966 while on a break from touring, Bob Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident, and retired into semi-seclusion in Woodstock, New York. 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, where they recorded a much-bootlegged and influential series of demos, subsequently released on LP as The Basement Tapes.
Because they were always "the band" to various frontmen, Levon Helm said the name "The Band" worked well when the group began recording their own material. They created two of the most acclaimed albums of the late 1960s: their 1968 debut Music from Big Pink (featuring the single "The Weight"- featured below) and then 1969's The Band.
The music fused classic country music and early rock and roll with a rhythm section reminiscent of a Motown beat. Every member was a multi-instrumentalist. There was little instrument-switching when they played live, but when recording, the musicians could make up different configurations in service of the songs.
Their rich harmonies blended together not sweetly but in an informal, flowing manner that gave them a unique sound, and their image and lyrics -steeped in traditional American culture- was also unusual, running counter to the hippie and psychedelic themes of the day. Levon Helm's drumming was often praised: critic Jon Carroll famously declared that Helm was "the only drummer who can make you cry."- and along with The Byrds this trailblazing group created a genre for later country-rock superstars like The Eagles.
Trivia: 70s Scottish hard-rockers Nazareth (Love Hurts, This Flight Tonight) named their own band from the first line of this song, "The Weight"... a favorite of theirs, and definitely one of mine, here performed live at Woodstock in the Summer of '69...
The Band: The Weight
More at Reaganite Republican
We have recently been in touch with some of the original members of this group:
How appropriate cause I am feeling half past dead.
“Last Waltz” is an incredible film...
“He just grinned, and shook my hand,...No was all he said”
One of my favorite bands of all-time. Good music and good times, I associate with this group. Robbie was the spoiled brat of the bunch, but we all have some faults. Rock on! Thanks for posting.
I do need to take a “load off”
but don’t put it back on me
I love these guys, and with Dylan they really clicked too, imho- like “When I Paint my Masterpiece”... fantastic
Does “Natural Born Bugie” work for you?
With a 20 yr old Peter Frampton on guitar?
The Band is one of the reasons the Sixties wasn’t all bad.
Exactly Jack... they and the Byrds invented Country Rock from what I can see... The Eagles surely owe them
There was a scene in the movie where "The Band" is posing in front of a Confederate flag. Imagine oh so p.c. Robbie Robertson striking the same pose today ...
Rick Danko and Richard Manuel are dead. Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm are still kicking.
Great band, I listen to one or two of their songs every day, on my 60’s mix CDs.
They do wear well, I’ve been listening to them for 30 yrs myself- real quality band in every way
Dylan saw and recruited Levi Helms at TONY MART in Somers Point, NJ in 1965 . The rest is history .
Saw them at Woodstock and they were great . People expected Dylan to show up and play some songs with them . He didn’t .
It is, but the stories behind it are even more incredible. It was a huge source of anger in the band because Robertson kept mouthing lyrics at the mic even when he wasn't singing lead. The others probably still hate Scorsese for, as they see it, giving his friend Robertson too much screentime.
The rest of the band also had a legitimate point as to why they were guest stars at their own farewell concert. While the result is really entertaining, it takes the focus off The Band.
Van Morrison almost didn't go on. He was backstage and still saying he might not go on, and had to really psyche himself up. I think he pulled it off, though.
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