The members of The Band first worked together as The Hawks, the backing band of rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins from 1959 until 1963. Shortly afterwards, Bob Dylan came to Toronto and recruited the quintet for his history-making 1965/1966 world tour. The Band also worked with Dylan on the initial Blonde on Blonde sessions which, bar two tracks, were ultimately abandoned in favour of versions recorded with Nashville session musicians.
After a motorcycle accident in mid-1966, Dylan retreated from the public eye to his country house near Woodstock, New York. He was joined by the Band for some informal jam sessions starting in the autumn of 1967, nearly all of which were recorded. After being heavily bootleged, Columbia Records finally released The Basement Tapes in 1975, a selection of the better tracks recorded during the sessions along with new recordings by The Band.
Bob Dylan and The Band were reunited in 1974, recording Planet Waves for Asylum Records, Dylan's first album recorded for a record label other than Columbia. Although the album was released under Dylan's name alone, The Band joined Dylan for his first tour in eight years in support of Planet Waves, with some of the material recorded and released on the 1975 concert record Before the Flood.
Columbia Records finally released The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete in November 2014, featuring every surving recording from the original sessions in Woodstock.