The Band was a highly acclaimed and influential Canadian-American country rock band with a laid-back Americana sound that became famous beginning in the late 1960s. Their best known songs include the uplifting yet soulful "The Weight" (1968), the down-home "Up On Cripple Creek" (1969), and the swamp pop-infused "Life Is A Carnival" (1971).
Formed in 1967 in Woodstock, New York, the lineup consisted of multi-instrumentalists Rick Danko (December 29, 1942 - December 10, 1999), Levon Helm (May 26, 1940 - April 19, 2012), Garth Hudson (b. August 2, 1937), Richard Manuel (April 3, 1943 - March 4, 1986), and Robbie Robertson (b. July 5, 1943) who wrote/co-wrote most of The Band's songs along with other band members. Vocals were provided mainly by Danko, Helm, and Manuel, plus Robertson on occasion, and all members hailed from Canada except for Helm who was born and raised in Arkansas. From 1957-1964, they had all served as members of The Hawks, the backing band for Toronto-based rockabilly singer, Ronnie Hawkins. They went on to back Bob Dylan through 1967 before signing with Capitol and changing their name to The Band. In 1968, they released their debut album, "Music From Big Pink," regarded by many critics as among the most influential recordings in the history of rock.
The Band debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1968 with "The Weight," the first of many classics which was followed by their biggest hit, "Up On Cripple Creek" (1969). The Band's many hits also include "Rag Mama Rag" (1970), "Time To Kill" (1970), "The Shape I'm In" (1970), "Life Is A Carnival" (1971), "Don't Do It" (1972), "Ain't Got No Home" (1973), and "Ophelia" (1976). Their final charting song came in 1978 with "Out Of The Blue."
After The Band split in 1977, Robertson went on to a solo career, and the original quintet gave their last-ever performance in 1978 at The Roxy in West Hollywood. Their star-studded farewell concert, which took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1976, was captured in the documentary, "The Last Waltz" (1978), which was selected in 2019 by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. The Band reunited in 1983 without Robertson and continued through 1999, with some personnel changes that included the loss of Richard Manuel who committed suicide in 1986. Over the years, The Band has influenced such top acts as Eric Clapton, The Eagles, The Grateful Dead, Elton John, and Pink Floyd. The Band's numerous honors and accolades include being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award (2008).
- The New York Times remembers pianist Richard Manuel and bassist Rick Danko of The Band.
- The Guardian remembers drummer Levon Helm of The Band.
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- Up On Cripple Creek 1969
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