The Band

The Band Artistfacts

  • 1967-1977
    Robbie RobertsonGuitar
    Levon HelmDrums, vocals
    Richard ManuelPiano, vocals
    Rick DankoBass, vocals
    Garth HudsonOrgan
  • Their vocals were often 3-part harmonies with Helm, Manuel, and Danko.
  • They were playing clubs as The Hawks when Bob Dylan asked them to be his backup band on his first electric tour. They were often booed by audiences who felt Dylan had sold out his folk fans.
  • Robertson, Danko, Manuel, and Hudson are Canadian. Robertson is Canadian by birth, but his heritage is half-Jewish and half-American Indian.
  • Bob Dylan got in a motorcycle accident while they were backing him on tour. Looking for a place to live and work while Dylan recovered, they rented a big, pink house in upstate New York (West Saugerties), where they recorded demos for their first album, Music From Big Pink, in the basement.
  • Robertson did a stint as a "creative executive" at DreamWorks Records.
  • Their second album, The Band, was recorded at Sammy Davis Jr.'s house, which they had rented.
  • They became known as "The Band" when they were living in Big Pink and locals recognized them as members of Dylan's backing band. When folks would spot one of them, they would remark that he was in "the band." That's the name the went with when they made a record.
  • The Woodstock festival was a bad experience for The Band, who were the only local act - they lived nearby and had to contend with tourists for the next few years. They were paid more for their performance then many other artists, including Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Grateful Dead, and The Who. They played the last night and left right after their set.
  • Songwriting credits and royalty payments were a contentious issue for The Band. Robertson was listed as the composer on most of the songs, even though the others helped write them. As a result, Robertson continues to get most of the royalties from the songs.
  • They played the Watkins Glen Festival on July 28, 1973 along with The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead. With over 600,000 people, it was the largest US concert ever.
  • The Band performed their last concert on November 24, 1976 at Winterland in San Francisco. In 1978, the movie The Last Waltz, about this concert, was released. November 24 was the same day Eric Clapton had played Cream's farewell concert in 1968. It was partially because of The Band's music that Clapton decided to leave Cream. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    James - Tracy, CA
  • Levon Helm inspired the name for the title character in Elton John's "Levon."
  • They are a huge influence on Eric Clapton, who was in Cream when Music From Big Pink came out. Clapton formed Blind Faith with the idea of making music with more direction and fewer extended solos, which were the trademark of Cream. The Band played on his albums No Reason To Cry (1976) and August (1986). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joey - Athens, GA
  • Regarding their split, Robertson said (in Q magazine): "I was responsible for the break up of The Band. But did I do it on a whim? I don't think so! Drugs and alcohol were the real destruction of The Band – but that's always underplayed."
  • When they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, only three members were there. Levon Helm chose not to attend and Richard Manuel had died. When they played, Eric Clapton joined them to fill in the sound.
  • In 1969, these guys became the first Canadian band to appear on the cover of Time magazine. They were heralded as "The first to match the excellence of the Beatles."
  • Helm has gone on to an acting career. He played Loretta Lynn's father in Coal Miner's Daughter and appeared in The Right Stuff.
  • Levon Helm and Garth Hudson played drums and Hammond organ on Norah Jones' song "What Am I To You." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Lee - Mobile, AL
  • Plagued by drug and alcohol problems, Manual hanged himself after a show in Florida in 1986.
  • Levon Helm was honored in Woodstock, New York, as the town saluted him by making May 20th, 2006 "Levon Helm Day." Helm has lived there since the '60s, and he got the key to the city as part of the honor.
  • Helm and his band do a regular monthly gig called a "Midnight Ramble" at his barn, which is also a recording studio. The shows often attract special guests, and Elvis Costello and Steely Dan singer-keyboardist Donald Fagen have made appearances. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Stevie Lee - radio personality @ 1077 WSFR - Louisville, KY, for above 2
  • Robertson and the director Martin Scorsese became good friends after Scorsese directed The Last Waltz. They lived together for a while, and Robertson often worked on the music for Scorsese's films; he contributed songs or worked as a music consultant on The Departed, Gangs Of New York, Raging Bull, The Color Of Money and Shutter Island. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 19

  • Marty Phillips from Cana, NcCan anyone tell me who owns the copyright to the lyrics for The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down? I need to obtain permission if not in public domain to quote a few lines in print.
  • Mr. Chow from Fla.These guys were an inspiration for me in my time of hardship.
  • Kevin from Greenwich Ct.I was at Watkins Glen, having been a Band fan since “68”..I remember watching the guy (Willard Smith) parachute and coming down, I believe he had a flare in his hand that caught the chute on fire as he crashed to his death....terrible sight.
  • Chris from Houston, TxIf you have any questions about The Band's breakup and the bad blood between Robertson and Helm, watch the documentary on Helm, "I Ain't in This For My Health." Helm wasn't ready to put it down and Robertson did. The hurt feelings from that led Levon to question the way Robertson basically used him and his life experiences to be his muse for the writing that made The Band so great. He was also the only member of The Band who was any good with money which led to some bitterness it seems. I just hope Levon found peace before the end. Hope to see him on the other side.
  • Mary from Chandler, AzRest In Peace, Mr. Helm. :( We will miss your beautiful voice.
  • David Shannon from Los Angeles, CaIn fact, The Band did NOT breakup over songwriting royalty disputes. Another fact is that Levon Helm is the ONLY member of The Band to ever dispute the songwriting credits and this was NEVER mentioned until he had his biography written for him in 1994. One final fact about this is that The Band split the publishing equally among all 5 members.
  • Ryan from Hamilton, OnThe Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, from The Last Waltz is a true masterpiece.
  • Brose from Oklahoma City, OkI can't lie Levon has the best voice but the group made it work. I just listen to his draw as he sings lyrics that pull me from the day.
  • Barry from New York, NyHey Tom the entire Band Watkins Glen is available in somewhat limited circulation. I have it. It's a rough audience recording but complete and listenable. The soundcheck is included as a soundboard recording. However I have always wished that Capitol Records would have released the entire thing legitimately, not like what was done on the bogus LIVE AT WATKINS GLEN. What a cheat that was.
  • Tom from Long Island , NyDoes anyone out there know how I can get an actual CD of the Watkins Glenn 1973 set of the Band?
  • Noril from Manila, Othermy favorite song from the band is King Harvest!! Damn, that blew me away!! Great intelligent lyrics!!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI meant to say that I love Levon Helm's voice.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI love Levon Helm's, and "The Last Waltz' is awesome. Enough said.
  • Kelly from Burbank, CaI love The Band! However, it was suprising to hear that only ONE member of The Band was actually from the South! And it also suprising to hear that the other members were Canadian...and that they (yes they, not just Robbie, right?) wrote incredible tunes such as Up on Cripple Creek, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, and The Weight that I thought must be inspired by Southerners. The harmonies are amazing, and I really like Levon's voice; it adds the southern ring to the songs. "The Last Waltz" is a must see for all Band fans, and there is another movie I recently saw that just came out called "Festival Express" that features them as well.
  • Barry from New York, NyThe Band performed a great set at the famous Watkins Glen Summer Jam in July 1973. It was during their set when a guy named Willard Smith from Syracuse, NY made a fatal parachute jump into the crowd. Also, the Watkins Glen rainstorm occurred during their set.
    Although an album called THE BAND LIVE AT WATKINS GLEN came out in 1995, this was merely studio songs with overdubbed live sounds. However, their entire set does circulate as an audience recording.
  • Paul from Squamish, CanadaRobbi Robertson is half native
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScMy fave song by The Band is "The wait". I like it because of its simplickty. What i mena is it's just one of those songs you can sing along to. Probably a good driving song too.
  • Nickc from Ft. Wayne, InDid harmonies for Roger Waters' "The Wall Live in Berlin."
  • Abdiel from Rock Hill, ScThe Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is a rock and roll song written by Robbie Roberston who played the guitar in The Band and the song was first recorded by The Band in 1969.
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