The Band are one of the most important and influential groups of the 20th Century. They made musical history not once but twice in the 1960s. They defined Americana despite being four-fifths Canadian. They were, according to George Harrison, better than The Beatles. Robbie Robertson, the quintet’s guitarist, songwriter and official custodian of The Band’s heritage, spoke to Clash in October 2005 as he wrapped up production on ‘A Musical History’, an appropriately titled comprehensive six disc account of the group’s career. Their impressive journey from an R&B backing band touring the club circuit, to assisting Bob Dylan’s plugging in, to international stardom as enigmatic country boys makes for wonderful reading and even better listening. It’s an epic saga that witnesses its heroes combating enraged audiences, alcohol and drug addictions, car crashes and ultimately themselves. Some never lived to tell the tale and those that did can’t even face each other.
Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel