The Last Waltz
The Band was an influential Canadian-American rock and roll group of the 1960s and ’70s, formed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Band included Robbie Robertson (guitar, piano), Richard Manuel (piano, harmonica, drums, saxophone, organ), Garth Hudson (organ, piano, clavinet, accordion, synthesizer, saxophone), Rick Danko (bass guitar, violin, trombone), and Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, guitar, bass guitar).
The members of The Band first worked together as The Hawks, the backing band of rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins from 1959 until 1963. Afterwards, Bob Dylan recruited the quintet for his history-making 1965/1966 world tour and they joined him on the informal recordings that became the acclaimed ‘Basement Tapes’.
Labelled “The Band” by their peers, the group left their communal home in Saugerties, NY to begin recording as a group unto themselves. The Band recorded two of the most important albums of the late 1960s: their 1968 debut ‘Music from Big Pink’ and 1969’s ‘The Band’. Throughout their career they would re-popularize traditional American musical forms during the psychedelic era. The Band dissolved in 1976, with Martin Scorcese’s landmark concert film “The Last Waltz” documented their final performance. They reformed in 1983 without founding guitarist and main songwriter Robbie Robertson.
The Band have since been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Group included Rick Danko (born December 9,1943, in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada), bass and vocals; Levon Helm (born May 26,1942, in Marvell, Arkansas), drums, mandolin, and vocals; Garth Hudson (born August 2, c. 1943, in London, Ontario), organ and saxophone; Richard Manuel (born April 3,1945, in Stratford, Ontario; died of apparent suicide by hanging, March 6, 1986, in Winter Park, FL), piano and vocals; and Jaime (some sources say James) Robbie Robertson (born July 5,1944, in Toronto, Ontario) guitar and vocals.
Group formed as backing ensemble for singer Ronnie Hawkins; by 1963, had left Hawkins and become known as Levon and the Hawks, performing variously as the Crackers and the Canadian Squires; recorded with folk/blues singer John Hammond, Jr., New York City, 1964; supported Bob Dylan on tour, 1965-66, 1974; signed with Capitol Records, and released first album, Music From Big Pink, 1968; ended career with five-hour performance at the Winterland, San Francisco, Thanksgiving Day, 1976, excerpts of which, titled The Last Waltz, were later released as an album and film; regrouped to perform with Dylan at Absolutely Unofficial Bluejeans Bash honoring the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, 1993.
The Band's first album was appropriately titled Music From Big Pink. It included cover versions of three previously unreleased Dylan compositions, "I Shall Be Released," "This Wheel's on Fire," co-written with Danko, and "Tears of Rage" co-written with Manuel. Most of the other songs on the album were penned by Robertson or Manuel. According to the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, "[Music From Big Pink] was a revolutionary album in many ways: The emphasis was on ensemble work rather than on the soloing that had previously dominated rock; the melodies, few of them blues based, were delivered by an ensemble that was almost orchestral in scope, yet comprised of only five musicians; the lyrics were elusive, like Dylan's, but with a distinctive and compelling cast. Enigmatic? You bet." In addition to recording songs for their first album, the Band had also backed Dylan in the studio on some of his compositions, which were released in 1975 on the two-album set The Basement Tapes.
Music From Big Pink, 1968.
The Band (includes "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"), 1969.
Stage Fright, 1970. Cahoots, 1971.
Rock of Ages, 1972.
Moondog Matinee, 1973.
(With Bob Dylan) Before the Flood, Asylum, 1974.
(With Dylan) The Basement Tapes, Columbia, 1975.
Northern Lights-Southern Cross, 1975.
The Best of the Band, 1976.
The Last Waltz, Warner Bros., 1978.
Jericho, Rhino, 1993.
Live at Watkins Glen, Capitol, 1995.
High on the Hog, Rhino, 1996.
Jubilation, River North Records, 1998.
Source: David Bianco
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