Launched to fame as Bob Dylan's backing group in 1966, The Band then became musical icons in their own right with a roots-rock sound which, despite their Canadian heritage, was steeped in the rich tradition of Americana. The Band's original line-up of guitarist Robbie Robertson, bassist Rick Danko, pianist Richard Manuel, organist Garth Hudson and the only American member, drummer Levon Helm, gradually came together in the early '60s as the backing band of rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. After outgrowing their frontman, the group decided to part company with Hawkins in 1963 and went onto record a number of singles under the guises Levon & the Hawks and The Canadian Squires before returning to the sidelines when they accepted an invitation to back Bob Dylan on a year-long tour. The previously edgy rock'n'roll outfit initially struggled to adapt to both Dylan's free-wheeling folksy approach and his often disapproving audience, with Helm choosing to temporarily walk away altogether, but ultimately persevered, going on to record the widely bootlegged <i>The Basement Tapes</i> together in 1967 and perform at Dylan's legendary show at Manchester's Free Trade Hall in 1966. The Band's association with Dylan continued with three co-writes on their 1968 debut album, <i>Music from Big Pink</i>, although it was the Robertson-penned "The Weight" which proved to have the most lasting impact thanks to its inclusion on cult classic "Easy Rider" (1969). Following the release of 1969's eponymous second LP, The Band embarked on their first headlining national tour, addressed their anxieties about fame on 1970's <i>Stage Fright</i>, and worked with the likes of Allen Toussaint and Van Morrison on 1971's <i>Cahoots</i>. By this point Robertson's increasing creative control over the band was causing significant tension, and after 1973 covers album, <i>Moondog Matinee</i>, a reunion with Dylan on his 1974 LP <i>Planet Waves</i>, and 1975's critically-acclaimed <i>Northern Lights - Southern Cross</i>, they announced their retirement from the live stage. The Band bid farewell to touring with a star-studded concert at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom which was documented by Martin Scorsese in "The Last Waltz" (1976), while the group's final album with the original line-up, <i>Islands</i>, arrived a year later. Following a six-year break, The Band, minus Robertson, began performing together again, and despite the suicide of founding member Manuel in 1986, they continued to tour throughout the rest of the decade. The Band even returned to the studio in the '90s for three unexpected additions to their influential back catalogue, <i>Jericho</i>, <i>High on the Hog</i> and <i>Jubilation</i>, and in 1994 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, after Danko died in his sleep at the end of 1999, The Band called it a day for good. In 2008, they were awarded a Lifetime Achievement at the Grammys, but the list of surviving members dwindled to two in 2012 when Helm passed away from cancer.