The band straddled two worlds as both a backing band and the stars of the show. They formed as the backing band for Ronnie Hawkins and then went on to back up Bob Dylan in 1965 and 1966. In 1968, The Band released their own “Music From the Big Pink” followed by the eponymous “The Band”, which helped define the burgeoning country rock sound. Their retirement concert was filmed by Martin Scorsese as the star-studded documentary “The Last Waltz”.
Gram Parsons was hugely influential during his short life as one of the originators of alt-country or, as he called it, “Cosmic American Music”. Parsons joined The Byrds in 1968, was practically a Rolling Stone, and helped form The Flying Burrito Brothers, recording two albums with them. After that band disintegrated he went solo, forming a partnership with Emmylou Harris and recording two solo albums. He died of a drug overdose in 1973, but still had some rock ‘n’ roll behavior left. One of his friends attempted to fulfill Parson’s wishes by stealing his body from LAX, driving it to Joshua Tree National Park, and cremating his body.