cover image Across the Great Divide: The Band and America

Across the Great Divide: The Band and America

Barney Hoskyns. Hyperion Books, $22.95 (438pp) ISBN 978-1-56282-836-3

In a saga spanning three decades, British journalist Hoskyns ( From a Whisper to a Scream: The Great Voices of Popular Music ) chronicles the story of the critically acclaimed rock group, the Band. As the 1960s dawned, a shared interest in the music of the American South brought Arkansas drummer-vocalist Levon Helm together with four Canadians: guitarists Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko, vocalist Richard Manuel and keyboardist Garth Hudson. Known as the Hawks, they backed up Bob Dylan after his notorious acoustic-to-electric switch; later, they perfected a style of their own at a Woodstock, N.Y., house dubbed ``Big Pink.'' In 1968, their first album as the Band was released, and subsequent hits included ``The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.'' This account relies heavily on quotations from the likes of critic Greil Marcus, performer Eric Clapton and late promoter Bill Graham. Where-are-they-now final chapters investigate the years after the Band's 1976 split: Robertson pursued Hollywood interests, Manuel committed suicide in 1986 and the others continued solo work. Of the Band's lineup, Robertson proves by far the most loquacious, making this volume a bonanza for his fans in particular, as well as for Dylan aficionados. Photos. (July)