The Band began as the Hawks, backing up rockabilly cat Ronnie Hawkins. In the mid-1960s, they became Bob Dylan's ensemble of choice, aiding him in his epochal switch to an electric rock-based format. When they emerged as an independent recording entity at the end of the '60s, they helped usher in a move towards earthy roots-rock as a generation shied away from the clamor and excess of the psychedelic era. The mostly Canadian group synthesized a wide variety of traditional American styles in a unique hodgepodge that took full advantage of each member's unique multi-instrumental abilities. THE LAST WALTZ film and album provided their 1978 swan song, but the Band began anew in the '80s without songwriter/guitarist Robbie Robertson.