The Band was one of the most celebrated and influential groups to arrive on the music scene in the late sixties. The Band's members - four Canadians: Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and one drummer from Arkansas, Levon Helm - fashioned something magically new out of musically traditional components: old-time country and gospel, Preservation Hall jazz, medicine-show vaudeville. They started as The Hawks, a teenage backup group for rockabilly renegade Ronnie Hawkins, touring the endless highways through the heart of the South. Eventually they headed north, where they left Hawkins to become Bob Dylan's band on the revolutionary electric tours of 1965 and 1966. From there they retreated to Woodstock, and, during a period of intense personal closeness and creativity, produced two of the most revered and hallmark albums of the era - Music from the Big Pink and The Band. These were part of a remarkable series of recordings, full of poetry and musical inspiration, an earthy fusion of country, gospel, and rock 'n' roll that set them solidly apart from the sonic overkill of their psychedelic contemporaries. When The Band finally emerged from their Woodstock home they found themselves ill-equipped to deal with the realities of fame and the music business. Stage fright, drug addictions, and growing bad feelings within the group led them to quit with the star-studded farewell of 'The Last Waltz' in 1976. A few years later Richard Manuel tragically hung himself in the bathroom of the Winter Park Quality Inn. ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE is a vivid and rollicking biographical journey. It spans the entire course of American rock and roll with a supporting cast that includes Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and U2. Barney Hoskyns brilliantly captures the raw magic and complex personalities of these 'musician's musicians'.
"A fine meditation on the Canadians who mythologized America." -- "Esquire"
"Hoskyns has managed to make the less glamorous business of being a band come so alive. The attention to fluctuations in group chemistry and morale, on stage and in the studio, is steeped in the author's engaging fascination with the minutiae of how rock music gets made. It makes for a surprisingly refreshing and admirable read." -- "Sunday Times"