[[caption-width-right:350:The Band in the early '70s. From left to right: Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko.]]

-> ''"There hasnít been any good American rock since, alas, The Band disbanded."''
-->-- '''Harold Bloom''', ''Paris Review'' interview, 1991

The Band were a highly influential Canadian-American rock group specializing in blues, roots rock, and Americana music.

The original lineup consisted of:

* Rick Danko (electric bass guitar, fiddle, trombone, lead and backing vocals)
* Levon Helm (drums, assorted percussion, acoustic guitar, mandolin, lead and backing vocals)
* Garth Hudson (organ, piano, clavinet, synthesizers, soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, slide trumpet, accordion)
* Richard Manuel (piano, organ, drums, lead and backing vocals)
* Robbie Robertson (electric and acoustic guitars)

Danko, Helm and Manuel [[VocalTagTeam all sang lead vocal]], sometimes harmonizing and sometimes separately. The Band members were also (apart from Robertson, who mainly concentrated on guitar) accomplished multi-instrumentalists, trading roles as needed from song to song. Manuel and Robertson shared songwriting duties in the early years, but as time went on Robertson took over as principal songwriter (a subject of controversy--see below).

The Band first came together as "The Hawks", the backup band for rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. Hawkins was born in Arkansas but found success touring Canada, and he hired the members of The Hawks one at a time between 1958 and 1963. Hawkins brought Helm, a fellow Arkansan, north to Canada to tour with him; all the others were Canadians recruited locally.

The Hawks left Hawkins in 1963 and struck out on their own, touring Canada as Levon and The Hawks and other names. Their big break came when Music/BobDylan hired them to be his touring band for a series of concerts in 1965 and 1966. This was Dylan's first tour since transitioning from folk music to electric rock. Fans of Dylan's folk music reacted so badly to the change that Levon Helm, disturbed by the negative reception, quit the group and went home.

After touring on their own for a while The Hawks, minus Helm, joined Dylan at his retreat in Woodstock, New York in the fall of 1967. Danko, Manuel and Hudson rented a pink-colored house (subsequently nicknamed "Big Pink") in nearby Saugerties, and together with Robertson and Dylan began making a series of demo recordings in its basement. A number of the songs from these informal sessions circulated for years on very popular bootlegs before finally being officially released in 1975 as ''Music/TheBasementTapes''. Soon the group started recording their own songs as well. It was at Woodstock that they settled on the name "The Band". They had stopped being known as The Hawks and the record company nixed the idea of the "The Crackers" (as in "white guys"), and after years of playing as "the band" for singers such as Hawkins and Dylan, they went with that as their official name.

In 1968, with Helm back in the fold, they went into the studio and recorded their debut album, ''Music from Big Pink''. It did not sell particularly well--The Band were never a chart-topping act--but the group's roots rock / Americana sound proved highly influential. "The Weight", a Robbie Robertson song on the album, was included in the soundtrack for ''Film/EasyRider'' and became one of the group's most famous songs; it is now a roots rock/Americana/country-folk standard. In 1969 they played at the famous UsefulNotes/{{Woodstock}} music festival and accompanied Dylan at the Isle of Wight Festival in the UK. That same year their followup album, titled ''[[Music/TheBandAlbum The Band]]'', cracked the top ten and raised The Band's profile. "Up on Cripple Creek" became a minor hit single, while "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" would [[CoveredUp become a hit cover song]] for Music/JoanBaez a few years later and remains another of The Band's best known songs.

''Stage Fright'' appeared in 1970 and also reached the top ten. It was during this time that Robbie Robertson began to take over as principal songwriter; ''Music from Big Pink'' had featured equal songwriting contributions from Manuel and Robertson as well as other songs written by Danko and Dylan, and Manuel and Helm had contributed songs for ''The Band'', but Manuel eventually dried up as a source of original music as he fell into alcoholism and Danko, Hudson, and Helm never had been prolific writers, so the composing duties consequently devolved to Robertson. Later there would be a great deal of dissension over this. Helm engaged in a long and bitter feud with Robertson in which he charged that Robertson had stolen songwriting credits from him and other members of The Band. Robertson denied taking any credits he wasn't due, and in 2008 his daughter wrote a [[http://articles.latimes.com/2008/feb/17/entertainment/ca-letters17.S1 letter to the editor]] of the ''Los Angeles Times'' noting that Helm still wasn't writing his own material. The feud continued until Helm's death in 2012.

The Band released ''Cahoots'' in 1971; this record received less favorable reviews than their previous efforts. The Band then went four years without recording an original album as acrimony within the group increased. Instead they released the concert album ''Rock of Ages'' in 1972 to critical acclaim and commercial success. Next came a cover album, ''Moondog Matinee'', in 1973. That same year The Band played the "Summer Jam at Watkins Glen" music festival along with Music/TheAllmanBrothersBand and Music/TheGratefulDead in front of over 600,000 fans. They also reunited with Bob Dylan, providing the instrumental backing on his ''Music/PlanetWaves'' album and then joining him for another tour, which yielded the concert album ''Before the Flood'' in 1974. Next came ''Northern Lights - Southern Cross'' in 1975. It was The Band's first album of original material in four years, and the only one for which Robertson was the sole composer. It drew critical praise but did not sell well.

In 1976 Robertson, who had grown tired of touring, convinced the rest of The Band to retire from live performances. The idea grew into a farewell concert in which The Band would play along with other artists that they admired and had influenced them. That idea further developed into a feature film of the concert, to be made by hot young Hollywood director Creator/MartinScorsese. The concert, called ''Film/TheLastWaltz'' and held in San Francisco on [[UsefulNotes/ThanksgivingDay Thanksgiving]] night 1976, featured the Band playing their own music as well as playing alongside guests that included Dylan, Hawkins, Music/JoniMitchell, Creator/NeilDiamond, Music/NeilYoung, Creator/MuddyWaters, Music/EricClapton, and Music/VanMorrison among others. ''The Last Waltz'' album was released in 1978 along with Scorsese's film of the same name. It has been regarded ever since as one of the best concert films ever made. Levon Helm was embittered by the experience, however, charging that Robertson pushed the whole project in an effort to launch himself into a movie career, and that Robertson manipulated his good friend Scorsese into presenting Robertson as the frontman of the band. (The film does indeed include quite a bit more commentary, and in-concert camera time, from Robertson than from any of the other Band members.)

It seemed that the plan was then for The Band to keep making records as a studio-only outfit, a la Music/TheBeatles in the late '60s. (In 1977 they released ''Islands'', a collection of B-sides and leftovers meant to get them out of a record contract.) However, for various reasons -- including the aforementioned intra-band fallout over ''The Last Waltz'' -- this didn't happen, and after 1978 the original lineup never played together again. Robertson never returned to the group, instead releasing a few solo albums (his song "Broken Arrow" became a big hit for Music/RodStewart) but spending most of the rest of his career as a film soundtrack composer, including a long professional relationship with Martin Scorsese as music composer and arranger for Scorsese's films.

The Band re-formed in 1983 with Jim Weider on guitar in place of Robertson. However, seven years out of the public eye (and possibly Robertson's absence) led to the group playing considerably smaller venues than they had in their glory days. In March of 1986 Richard Manuel hanged himself in his hotel room after The Band played a show at the Cheek to Cheek Lounge in Winter Park, Florida. He had relapsed into severe alcoholism as well as cocaine use following a period of sobriety in the early 1980s. The Band continued to play with other musicians replacing Manuel. In 1990 they played at a concert in Berlin along with other acts to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1994 Danko and Hudson performed with Robbie Robertson when The Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Helm, still feuding with Robertson, did not attend.

The Band (now comprised of Danko, Helm, Hudson and Weider along with drummer Randy Ciarlante and keyboardist Richard Bell) released three new albums in the 1990s, their first original material in twenty years. However, The Band finally ended for good when Rick Danko died of a heart attack in 1999. Hudson and Helm continued to record and perform. Helm won a battle with throat cancer that almost cost him his voice, then triumphantly returned from illness with the Grammy-winning albums ''Dirt Farmer'' and ''Electric Dirt'', before a reoccurrence of the cancer led to his death in April of 2012.


* ''Music from Big Pink'' (1968)
* ''[[Music/TheBandAlbum The Band]]'' (1969)
* ''Stage Fright'' (1970)
* ''Cahoots'' (1971)
* ''Rock of Ages'' (1972) (live album)
* ''Moondog Matinee'' (1973)
* ''Music/PlanetWaves'' (1973) (with Bob Dylan)
* ''Before the Flood'' (1974) (live album with Bob Dylan)
* ''Music/TheBasementTapes'' (1975) (with Bob Dylan)
* ''Northern Lights - Southern Cross'' (1975)
* ''Islands'' (1977)
* ''The Last Waltz'' (1978) (live album with some studio material)
* ''Jericho'' (1993)
* ''High on the Hog'' (1996)
* ''Jublilation'' (1998)

!!Tropes from Big Pink:
* AlbumTitleDrop: "Smoke Signal"
-->When they're torn out by the roots\\
Young brothers join in ''cahoots''
* AlliterativeTitle: ''Moondog Matinee''
* AllLoveIsUnrequited: "It Makes No Difference"
-->There's no love as true as the love that dies untold
* AncientAstronauts: "The Saga of Pepote Rouge" talks about "A golden spaceship with the mother of the Earth carved in stone", apparently an extraterrestrial who gave birth to the human race. It's actually a ShoutOut to Erich von Däniken's ''Chariots of the Gods'', which theorizes that something like this happened at the ancient Tiwanaku site in Bolivia.
* ArtisticStimulation: Helm, Danko and Manuel all had addiction issues over the years, with drugs being contributing factors in Danko's and Manuel's deaths. This all inspired Robertson to write a song about heroin addiction ("Forbidden Fruit"). In his autobiography, Robertson makes it clear that he wasn't a novice at drug use either (mainly [[TheStoner weed]]).
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"
* BadassBeard / BadassMoustache: Look at that picture!
* TheBandMinusTheFace: Public reaction after The Band reformed.
* CanadaEh: All of the members came from Canada, except for Arkansas native Levon Helm. Occasionally you can hear it in the singing (like the way Danko pronounces "sorry" in "The Unfaithful Servant").
* ChristmasSongs: "Christmas Must Be Tonight"
* ClearMyName: "I Shall Be Released"
* CoatFullOfContraband: "Life Is a Carnival"
* CoverAlbum: ''Moondog Matinee'', ''Jericho''
* DeadArtistsAreBetter: After their deaths the contributions of Richard Manuel and Rick Danko to the group got some renewed appreciation. Levon Helm already had a strong reputation, but his passing received a pleasantly surprising amount of mainstream media coverage.
* DealWithTheDevil / RockMeAsmodeus: "Daniel and the Sacred Harp"
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: The first two albums are accompanied with old-timey looking black and white photos of the group. Also applies to the small poster that originally came with the third album.
* DistinctDoubleAlbum: ''The Basement Tapes'' (with Bob Dylan), ''Rock of Ages'', ''Before the Flood''.
** ''The Last Waltz'' was actually a ''triple'' album, and that's not counting its [[LimitedSpecialCollectorsUltimateEdition expansion to a 4-CD box set]] in 2002.
* ADogNamedDog: A band called The Band.
* DownerBeginning: "Acadian Driftwood"
-->The war was over and the spirit was broken
* EpicInstrumentalOpener: "The Genetic Method", the organ improvisation Garth Hudson would use in concert to segue into the EpicRiff of "Chest Fever". The original recording of "Chest Fever" began with an organ solo, and over time, Garth would draw it out longer and longer and get funkier and funkier until eventually the intro became its own separate piece.
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: Supposedly thanks to ExecutiveMeddling; according to Levon Helm, they originally wanted to be The Crackers and weren't completely happy to find themselves credited as The Band on their first album.
** They also considered not using a collective name and just crediting their individual names. "The Weight" was released that way as a single.
* FemmeFatale: Underneath the WordSaladLyrics the subject of "Chest Fever" sounds like one of these.
* ForbiddenFruit: [[CaptainObvious "Forbidden Fruit"]]. Which was apparently Robbie Robertson writing about the substance abuse problems some of his fellow band-mates were struggling with.
* FriendlyLocalChinatown: "Shootout in Chinatown".
* GrandFinale: ''The Last Waltz''
* TheGreatDepression: "Knockin' Lost John"
* GreatestHitsAlbum: Several, despite the group's lack of hits. ''The Band: A Musical History'' is a comprehensive, 5-CD collection of the original lineup's work.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Richard Manuel and Music/VanMorrison, when they both lived in Woodstock. Their duet "4% Pantomime" on ''Cahoots'' was based on a real drunken escapade the two had in L.A.
* {{Hobos}}: "Hobo Jungle". It seems a hobo jungle is a [[http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA01/white/hobo/thejungle.html real thing]].
* IndecipherableLyrics: Most of the WordSaladLyrics of "Chest Fever" are hard to make out without a lyric sheet.
* {{Instrumentals}}: "The Genetic Method", "Third Man Theme", "Theme from the Last Waltz", "French Girls", "Greensleeves", "Islands" (Robertson didn't finish the lyrics in time for the recording sessions, so they just left it as an instrumental).
* IntercourseWithYou: "Jemima Surrender", "Volcano".
* ItIsPronouncedTroPAY: Richard Manuel's last name is pronounced the same as the word "manual" (and was amusingly misspelled that way in the credits of Music/BobDylan's ''Music/PlanetWaves'').
* LargeHam: Robbie Robertson, all throughout ''The Last Waltz''.
* LaterInstallmentWeirdness: ''Islands'' was basically a collection of leftovers and has lots of [[OutOfCharacterMoment Out Of Character Moments]] for the group, like a mellow [[ChristmasSongs Christmas Song]] ("Christmas Must Be Tonight"), an GenreMotif/EasyListening instrumental ("Islands") and a bizarre song about AncientAstronauts ("The Saga of Pepote Rouge").
* LeadDrummer: Levon Helm.
* LiveAlbum: ''Rock of Ages'', ''Before the Flood'', ''The Last Waltz''
* ManicPixieDreamGirl: The more that "Up on Cripple Creek" goes on, the more Bessie sounds like one of these.
* "W.S Walcott's MedicineShow"
* {{Mondegreen}}: "The Weight" has a fairly simple one, and easily made due to the difficulty of distinguishing the back-to-back f-sounds. It really is "Take a load off, ''Fanny''" and not "Take a load off, ''Annie''". That a large number of musicians know an "Annie" means that some covers probably just take the mondegreen at face value. (You'd think the fifth-verse line "To get back to Miss Fanny" would be a tipoff...)
* MurderBallad: Their cover of "Long Black Veil".
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly: Their music frequently draws from a variety of genres including folk, blues, country, gospel and R&B.
* NewSoundAlbum: ''Northern Lights--Southern Cross'' represented a move away from their earlier rootsy sound to a more highly-produced, almost cinematic pop style.
* NewYearHasCome: ''Rock of Ages'' was recorded, in part, at a New Year's Eve 1971 show. (Garth Hudson incorporated "Auld Lang Syne" into his performance of "The Genetic Method" right as the clock stuck midnight and 1972 began, to the delight of the audience.)
* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished: "The Weight" is about a favor that keeps ballooning and leading to competitions when each recipient adds new tasks to it. According to songwriter Robbie Robertson, the lyrics were inspired by what happened to saintly figures in the films of Creator/LuisBunuel.
* NonAppearingTitle: "Caledonia Mission", "Chest Fever", "Last of the Blacksmiths", "The Weight" (although Music/ArethaFranklin includes a TitleDrop in her version).
* NotChristianRock: "The Weight", "Daniel and the Sacred Harp", others.
* OddFriendship: They hung out with Music/TinyTim for a while in TheSixties and backed him on a few songs for the countercultural film ''You Are What You Eat''.
* OminousPipeOrgan: The intro to "Chest Fever".
* OneSteveLimit: Averted, but Richard Danko went by Rick to differentiate himself from Richard Manuel.
* OneWomanSong: "Ophelia", "Evangeline"
* PerformanceAnxiety: The chorus to the [[CaptainObvious fittingly named]] "Stage Fright" provides the page quote.
* PosthumousNarration: "Long Black Veil"
* PuttingTheBandBackTogether: Minus the lead guitarist.
* ProtestSong: "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)"
* RecordProducer: The first two albums were produced by John Simon, who also played instruments on several tracks and essentially functioned as a sixth band member. The Band produced the rest themselves beginning with ''Stage Fright'' (although they were "assisted" on that album by engineer Music/ToddRundgren).
* RefrainFromAssuming: It's called "The Weight", not "Take a Load Off, Fanny".
* RepetitiveName: Robbie Robertson (his actual first name is Jaime).
* ReviewerStockPhrases: "Rustic" and "homespun" can be found in most Band reviews, especially for ''The Basement Tapes'', ''Music from Big Pink'', and the self-titled album.
* RevolvingDoorBand: Various musicians filled the voids left by Robertson and then by Manuel.
** How they formed. After learning that [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff Canadians Love Ronnie Hawkins]], Hawkins relocated to Toronto. The Arkansas native musicians in The Hawks (except Levon Helm) left and Hawkins recruited various configurations of Canadian musicians until the final lineup crystallized.
* {{Rockumentary}}: ''The Last Waltz''. The concert segments are brilliant, as are the studio performances, but the interview segments of the film suffer from too much Robertson, and Scorsese completely misses the seething tension within The Band.[[note]]For example, there are a lot of shots of Robertson apparently singing happily away, but he was such a weak singer that his mic wasn't even turned on.[[/note]] ''The Last Waltz'' seems to have inspired Rob Reiner's satirical masterpiece ''Film/ThisIsSpinalTap'', with Reiner's clueless Marty [=DiBergi=] being an obvious NoCelebritiesWereHarmed goof on Scorsese.
** ''Festival Express'', a 2003 documentary about the 1970 Canadian train tour of that name, features performances by The Band along with such artists as Music/TheGratefulDead and Music/JanisJoplin.
** Sadly averted with the ''Film/{{Woodstock}}'' movie, from which their entire set was omitted due to the filmmakers being unable to come to terms with their manager Albert Grossman.
* {{Satan}}: From the second verse of "The Weight": "I picked up my bag/I went lookin' for a place to hide/When I saw Carmen and the devil/walkin' side by side."
* SelfTitledAlbum: ''Music/TheBand''.
* UsefulNotes/SevenYearsWar: "Acadian Driftwood" (some ArtisticLicenseHistory, since the expulsion of the Acadians was actually one of the events that led to the breakout of the full war. Also, "what went down on the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plains_of_Abraham Plains of Abraham]]" happened several years later, but Plains of Abraham is just [[RuleOfCool too cool]] ''not'' to use in a song lyric).
* ShapedLikeItself: "Forbidden fruit/It's the fruit that you'd better not taste"
* ShellShockedVeteran: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"
* ShoutOut: to Music/SpikeJones, of all people, in "Up on Cripple Creek".
* SleepingWithTheBoss: Possibly implied in "The Unfaithful Servant".
* SopranoAndGravel: Manuel and Helm, occasionally. "Whispering Pines" is a good example.
* SpecialGuest: Music/BobDylan joins the Band for four songs at the end of the expanded CD version of ''Rock of Ages''. Music/VanMorrison duets with Manuel on "4% Pantomime" from ''Cahoots''. And, of course, ''The Last Waltz'' is pretty much wall-to-wall special guests.
* StepUpToTheMicrophone: Robbie Robertson sings lead or co-lead vocal on "To Kingdom Come", "Ain't No More Cane", "Bessie Smith", "Knockin' Lost John", "Out of the Blue", and "The Last Waltz Refrain". An unusual example, in that Robertson wrote most of the group's material but almost never sang.
** Inverted in concert, where according to Helm they'd often leave Robertson's microphone turned off.
* AStormIsComing: "Look Out Cleveland"
* TakeThat: Helm's vituperative autobiography, ''This Wheel's on Fire'', filled with invective directed at Robertson. Robertson's autobiography ''Testimony'' is a bit more tactful, but his portrait of Helm isn't all that positive either.
* TextlessAlbumCover: ''Music from Big Pink''
* VocalTagTeam: Danko, Manuel, Helm, and (occasionally) Robertson.
* WeUsedToBeFriends:
** Helm and Robertson were a particularly nasty example of this trope, though they reportedly patched things up as Helm lay dying.
** There was some bitterness between the guys and Ronnie Hawkins for a while after they broke away from him.
* UsefulNotes/{{Woodstock}}: They were at both the 1969 and 1994 editions.
* WordSaladLyrics: Occasionally. "We Can Talk" and "Chest Fever" are good examples.
* YouHaveFailedMe: The Hawks splitting from Ronnie Hawkins happened because of a botched attempt at this by Hawkins. Rick Danko starting bringing his girlfriend to shows, which violated Hawkins' stipulation that band members had to be free to mingle with audience members (particularly females) between sets. Hawkins fired Danko, but the other Hawks, who'd been pondering leaving Hawkins for a while, promptly quit when they heard the news.