November 15, 2018 / 9:25 PM

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6 Bands That Were Backing Bands for Other Artists: The Eagles, the Band, and more

 

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The ideal career for most bands it to achieve success by playing their own songs, but some bands have very successfully performed as backing bands for other well-known artists. Here are six bands who did just that.

1. The Eagles

Before the Eagles formed in 1971, the four original members (Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon) played in their own bands and as session musicians around Los Angeles in the late '60s, until all four of them were recruited to tour with singer Linda Ronstadt and perform on her third album. Though all four members played together live just once with Ronstadt, this was enough time for them to realize that they should start their own band, and the Eagles were born.

2. Sunny Day Real Estate

The Foo Fighter's eponymous debut album was recorded entirely by Dave Grohl, but when the album became an unexpected chart success, he needed to put together a band to perform the songs live. Former Nirvana touring guitarist Pat Smear was recruited as a second guitarist, but the rhythm section was taken from another successful Seattle band: Sunny Day Real Estate. Bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith joined Foo Fighters after Sunny Day Real Estate disbanded, and though Goldsmith would quit the band in 1996, Mendel remains a member to this day.

3. Slint

According to the new (and incredible) documentary Breadcrumb Trail, the indie rock scene in Louisville, Kentucky during the late '80s and early '90s was a tight-knit but totally bizarre place. Two of the most famous artists to come out of this scene were Slint and Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Oldham was good friends with Slint, taking the cover photo for the band's album Spiderland, and when Oldham recorded his debut album There is No-One What Will Take Care of You under the name Palace Brothers, three of the four members of Slint played as his backing band.

4. Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention is widely considered to be one of the most important bands in English folk rock, and though the band recorded classic albums on its own, it would also contribute to classic albums by another English folk artist, Nick Drake. Drake's first two albums Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter feature performance by members of Fairport Convention. Despite these albums not being commercially successful, they're widely regarded as some of the finest folk albums ever recorded.

5. Crazy Horse

Neil Young typically records two types of albums: acoustic country/folk albums, and fierce, explosive rock albums, and when Young records one of his rock albums, most famously 1969's Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, he recruits Los Angeles country-rock band Crazy Horse to play with him. Though Crazy Horse has recorded five albums on its own, the classic albums it made with Neil Young are the most famous in its catalog.

6. The Band

When Bob Dylan made his controversial decision to start playing rock music instead of acoustic folk, he hired a Canadian band known as the Hawks to go on tour with him in 1965 and 1966, where Dylan was famously heckled by his own fans for his "betrayal" to the folk scene. After the tours with Dylan, the Hawks would rename themselves as simply "The Band" and begin recording classic albums such as The Basement Tapes with Bob Dylan, and Music from Big Pink.

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