Dec 072011

#2 seed Silver Bullet Band with some guy named Seger.

In what promises to be one of the most-definitive Once and For All tournaments ever, Rock Town Hall seeks a field of 64 specifically named, dedicated backing bands for a competition to determine—once and for all—rock’s greatest backing band ever! Before the competition can take place, we need YOUR help in determining the field.

Entry criteria are simple:

  • The backing band must have an official name, used on an album cover or other branded piece, and be tied to a specific artist, such as Bill Haley & The Comets.
  • The backing band cannot be merely a backing band for hire and/or studio backing band (eg, Booker & The MGs).
  • The backing band’s official name must have been officially in use while it was backing its lead artist (eg, The Band was not officially known as “The Band” until after having backed Bob Dylan, so they would not qualify).
  • Unless the leader and his or her backing band are an a capella group, strictly vocal backing bands do not qualify (eg, Smokey Robinson’s Miracles).
  • Additional criteria may be added, as necessary.

Backing bands will be bracketed into 4 conferences of 16, as follows:

  1. The Legacy Conference
  2. The Expansion Conference
  3. The Classic Conference
  4. The Rebel Conference

Only one backing band has been seeded at the start of this process, The Silver Bullet Band (Bob Seger), drawing a #2 seed in the Classic Conference. They were offered the top seed, but chose to begin play at a slight disadvantage.

Let us begin the selection process for the remaining 63 contestants. You may suggest a conference and any supporting documentation with your nominations. Following seeding, which is expected this weekend, the tournament will proceed!


  148 Responses to “Rock Town Hall Seeks Field of 64 Specifically Named, Dedicated Backing Bands for Competition to Determine…Once and For All…Rock’s Greatest Backing Band Ever!”

  1. I’ll start this by suggesting the Bad Seeds for the Rebel Conference.

    Here’s a clip highlighting their animality and Nick Cave at his most feral:

    Here’s a later, slightly more elegant — but still rockin’– clip:

  2. For starters I think we need the E Street Band, the Attractions, and the Rumour. The first goes to the Classic, for sure. Do the new wave/pub types go there too or to the Rebel Conference?

  3. Good one – and appropriately placed. Thanks.

  4. diskojoe

    Since my first choice of Booker T. & the M.G.’s has been nixed, how about Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers?

  5. Definitely an up-and-comer in the Classic Conference!

  6. The MG’s were the backing band for Booker T and they made plenty of great records on their own. Why can’t we consider them as long as we Promise not to count their work with other Stax artists?

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    The Delaware Destroyers surely merit a slot somewhere, if only for being the only band with the word “Delaware” in their name. Their home game must be ferocious!

  8. The Family Stone!

  9. I nominate Paul Kelly’s band the Messengers. They were sort of like the Aussie Heartbreakers: same set up and just really great players who were more interested in making the songs, rather than themselves, sound good.

    Here’s three clips (Two are mislabled as Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls. They did use that rather unfortunate name but long before the songs in the clip were released)

    Dumb Things:

    Before too Long:


  10. For the Expansion Conference by the way.

  11. 2000 Man

    How can we not have the MG’s in the Legacy conference? People aren’t gonna take Rock Town Hall seriously if we omit them on a technicality. The Crickets should be in there, too.

    Is Crazy horse nominated yet for the Classic conference yet? They were pretty awesome, Rust Never Sleeps is amazing, to say the least.

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    The Bluesbreakers?

  13. hrrundivbakshi

    Ah! How about Tony Sheridan’s backing band, the Silver Beatles?

    Yours nerdily,


  14. Gonna beat HVB to it and nominate The Revolution. I wish I could find the version of “Partyup” they played on SNL online.

  15. cherguevara

    Two out of three of my favorite PK songs. He’s touring, btw, coming to the US soon.

  16. The Magic Band (but just for the Safe As Milk stuff. You can keep the rest)

  17. Do the Stooges count?

  18. misterioso

    The Attractions.

  19. They will be under consideration – along with later incarnations. It is possible that multiple Magic Bands will compete against each other, provided there are at least 2 or 3 different members.

  20. Their WORK in that incarnation is to be considered, not their future works.

  21. Should different Bad Seeds lineups compete? There’s been a lot of turnover.

  22. The Crickets and Crazy Horse definitely belong! I wanted to let you guys nominate them.

    Here are my problems with the MGs: Did the MGs really support Booker T? I don’t think so. So people really want to include Booker T & the MGs as a backing band. In that case, was there ever an album by, I don’t know, “Otis Redding & Booker T & The MGs”? I’m pretty sure there wasn’t; it would have looked stupid on an album cover.

    So let’s say I allow them, where do we draw the line? Does the completely uncredited Motown house band have to be included? The MGs’ capable backups, the Bar-Kays? The Muscle Shoals house band? The Wrecking Crew? The production teams behind Public Enemy and other rap artists? Then we just get into a Battle of the Producer-Selected Studio Backing Bands. Is that the same thing? Do they need a separate Battle Royale?

    I am willing to hear arguments for the creation of a distinct conference for this tournament containing nothing but “house” and studio backing bands for hire, but please consider whether that will water down the event. Thank you.

  23. trigmogigmo

    Paul Schaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band has been gigging hundreds of nights a year with a TV audience of millions for decades. But as a 99.9% covers only and 99.9% non-recording group, do they merit consideration? I would say yes — backing bands aren’t full of songwriters. And these guys have also backed a ton of big names outside the Late Show venue.

  24. I think I noticed that Kelly was coming to the World Cafe Live soon. I still need to find the old album of his I used to own and like. His band is a good 16th seed type!

  25. They’ve GOT to make it. Every tournament needs a villain. Thanks!

  26. They may have the same problem as Booker T & the MGs: the double ampersand issue.

  27. Whichever lineup(s) merit inclusion. You make the case!

  28. machinery

    Does The Spiders from Mars count? They were a made-up backing band for a made-up persona … yet I think that’s what they were called when Bowie did that tour?

    If not … The Delaware Destroyers.

  29. I will let this drop after reiterating that Green Onions and Hip Hug Her alone should be enough to separate the MG’s from the other house bands. Your point about them actually supporting Booker T seems reasonable though. They seemed like a band of equals rather than a backup band for the keyboard guy.

    How about the J Geils Band?

  30. machinery

    Sorry, just saw HVB beat me to that last one.

    how about “the blockheads?”

  31. Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio and Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps.

    And that Rolling Stone guitarist list should be evaluated to see if we can’t make some room for Paul Burlson and Cliff Gallup, the groups’ respective guitarists.

  32. hrrundivbakshi

    Oh, Oats — how I hate pince-nez you on this one, but that performance was in support of Prince’s “Dirty Mind” album, which preceded the actual Revolution. Still, mad props for nominating the Rev. And you’re right, that performance was HOT!

  33. Let’s see…

    Cliff Richards’ Shadows
    Joan Jett’s Blackhearts
    Is there a Gram Parsons ruling to be had on The Buckaroos?
    The Ants, as in “Adam and…” (and who were stolen to create Bow Wow Wow)
    Ted Leo’s Pharmacists

  34. hrrundivbakshi

    I SUMMON Mr. Moderator to comment on this performance — with one caveat: you are not allowed to describe or comment — directly or indirectly — on the on-stage antics of “Dr. Fink,” the keyboard player.

  35. hrrundivbakshi

    Let’s try again:

    Prince – Partyup [Live] by Vilosophe

  36. hrrundivbakshi


    … as in, Johnny Winter And.

  37. Yes, the Spiders are a great suggestion!

    I think it goes without saying that the Delaware Destroyers makes the cut…

  38. The Band


  39. J Geils Band runs into the same problem as Booker T & the MGs. I’m glad you brought them up. Listen, I love the MGs and am sorry to see them excluded, but if this Battle Royale to determine…once and for all…is to have any scientific rigor I think the exclusions I’ve proposed are more than reasonable.

  40. the TCB band

  41. Another good one! They will definitely go into the Rebel Conference.

  42. Later, when I have time, I will. Thank you.

  43. hrrundivbakshi

    Eff the Gram Parsons ruling! The Buckaroos were Buck Owens’ backing band, they totally rocked, and they should be IN this contest, if not win it outright!

  44. The Mad Dogs & The Englishmen!

  45. hrrundivbakshi

    The Soft Boys!

  46. Huh??? Who exactly did they back up under that name?

  47. If we’re going country the the Texas Playboys walk away with the belt. Why, Eldon Shamblin alone has more talent in his little finger than most of these other contenders have in their entire large intestine… including the colon!

  48. Oooh, that’s an interesting one!

  49. Great choice. On a related note, the Dominoes and/or Friends (Bonnie and Delaney)

  50. You know what, I hate to play this card, but I’m not sure we should muck this tournament up with too many country artists. Most of those cats chose to play in a different league altogether, under completely different legislative bodies. Soul artists being proposed for inclusion mixed freely with rock artists in festivals and on the radio (at least to a point). Beside Willie Nelson and a few other hippiefied country artists who played Charlie Daniels’ affairs and Farm Aid, did rock festivals get any more country than Country Joe & the Fish? Feel free to call me on this if I’m wrong.

    On a related note, pre-rock backing bands don’t qualify. Louis Armstrong’s best backing band, for instance, will have to wait for another tournament bid.

  51. I don’t care that they don’t qualify. I’m wasting my vote anyway. Gotta make a stand. Have to.


  52. I believe two KILLER bands that served under one dynamic soul artist have yet to be suggested.

  53. hrrundivbakshi

    I believe you’re referring to the JBs and the Famous Flames.

  54. Keith Richards & the X-Pensive Winos ???

  55. THAT’S an interesting bid out of leftfield!

  56. CORRECT! If you’re putting them forward I am willing to second those notions.

  57. Fair enough. If I were to stray from the rules I’ve set The Band might win this whole thing for their work with Dylan and all those artists in The Last Waltz.

  58. alexmagic

    Two suggestions:

    Wings (Paul McCartney and) – Expansion Conference, for obvious reasons.

    The Miami Sound Machine (Gloria Estefan and) – Rebel Conference, because they were badasses who played by their own rules.

    Two inquiries for eligibility:

    The Bunnymen (Echo and) – Surely, the Bunnymen were more dynamic than Echo himself, and they could have performed as a full band on their own, while Echo needed support. And, presumably, a power outlet.

    The Furious Five (Grandmaster Flash and) – Wasn’t sure if they were ineligible under the same cryptoracist nonsense Mod is using to keep the MGs from winning this thing.

  59. I’m just gonna reserve one entry for the Bad Seeds from 1990-2003. The core of the band stayed the same during that time period. I’ll say more when we get to them during the competition.

  60. Despite suggesting I’m racist for upholding the rigorous scientific design of this tournament for a band that happens to include 2 African American members and 2 members of what are known as being of “European descent” I will still treat your suggestions fairly. That’s the kind of man I am. Wings, The Miami Sound Machine, and The Furious Five are IN. The Bunnymen are OUT, but thanks for the laugh.

  61. I thought about the Furious Five, but didn’t think they were Rock enough, despite the leather ‘n studs look Melle Mel liked.

    Echo, alas, was not a human to be backed. In fact, Echo & The Bunnymen is the rare case where the backing artist(s) get top billing!

  62. Oh, and by “in” I mean in contention for a bid. Let’s see what other backing bands get nominated today. Thanks.

  63. hrrundivbakshi

    The Blowfish!

  64. hrrundivbakshi

    The Chipmunks!

  65. hrrundivbakshi

    More seriously:

    The Crickets.

  66. The Raiders (Paul Revere and…)
    The Rumour
    The Mothers of Invention

  67. alexmagic

    I think Steve Cropper is technically of werewolf descent.

  68. trigmogigmo

    Ah, I misread that rule. They are definitely a for hire / studio band.

  69. The Vancouvers (Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers). They were not only great, but they had Tommy Chong, who later formed “Cheech and Chong” on rhythm guitar!!

  70. Welcome aboard, Dennis! As this seems to be your debut post, we’ll have to give The Vancouvers strong consideration for a bubble pick. I had no idea Chong was in that band.

  71. OK, you got me: I have serious prejudices against werewolves!

  72. trigmogigmo

    The Banshees deserve a spot. I don’t think the conference definitions have been clearly defined, but presumably Expansion or Rebel.

  73. Happiness Stan

    I’ll second The Shadows, definitely.

  74. Happiness Stan

    I love the Soft Boys, but as I described in a recent post they have morphed into The Egyptians and every other incarnation of Robyn Hitchcock’s backing band, but always with RH at the helm. They deserve to win something, for putting up with Hitchcock if nothing else.

  75. I’m leaving the conference definitions vague to see what comes of them. In my original thinking “Expansion” was going to be for ’60s bands and “Rebel” would be for punks and other misfits. Misfit bands from the ’60s and early ’70s, however, may be best placed in the Rebel Conference, whereas “expansive” bands from more recent times may best fit in the Expansion Conference. Likewise, a modern backing band clearly working in a Founding Fathers fashion might be best suited for that conference.

  76. Happiness Stan

    Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac springs immediately to mind, with honourable mentions for (Johnny Kidd and) The Pirates, while coming up on the left field pop-side with at least one wonky wheel are (Gary Glitter and) The Glitter Band.

    Glitter was the first live act I was ever taken to see, in Alexandra Park after Hastings Carnival in about 1973, so his later antics have left a very nasty taste of betrayal, but his band had a respectable run of perfectly enjoyable hits in their own right, for which I don’t expect them to make the run-offs, but deserve credit for making folk happy while the going was good.

  77. cliff sovinsanity

    More suggestions:

    The Voivods – Richard Hell and
    The Wrayman – Link Wray and

    The following might be a stretch:
    Neko Case and Her Boyfriends
    Stephen Malkamus and The Jicks
    Josie and The Pussycats
    Jules and The Polar Bears
    Sir Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution

  78. Tennessee Two.

  79. 2000 Man

    That was a hell of a backing band!

  80. BigSteve

    They were The Hawks when they backed Dylan in ’66 (and when they backed Ronnie Hawkins).

  81. BigSteve

    Gotta pince nez Cliff. There is a band called Voivod, but Richard Hell’s backing band was the Voidoids.

  82. cliff sovinsanity

    Their cover of Astronomy Domine was in heavy rotation up here on MuchMusic. Probably for Can-Con reasons.

  83. cherguevara

    Perhaps the MG’s and Barkays don’t count, but their students, the Dap Kings, might.

  84. Might The Raiders be dq’ed on a double-ampersand? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Paul Revere & The Raiders album that wasn’t “…featuring Mark Lindsay”. This also goes into Echo & The Bunnymen “non-existent frontman” territory, unless Mark Lindsay was playing Paul Revere, and his name’s presence was to denote which Darren, so to speak, was singing on that album.

  85. ladymisskirroyale

    I was going to suggest The Jicks too but thanks for beating me to it. Their new album is the bomb.

  86. ladymisskirroyale

    Did I miss something, but shouldn’t The Attractions be nominated?

  87. I opened for Booker T and the MG’s once. I got to play Booker’s organ, it was a rental but still. Duck Dunn was so drunk he was barely able to walk up the stage stairs. He sounded good though. I don’t understand it.

  88. David Lindley & El Rayo-X

  89. The Hawks’ branded recordings with Hawkins are eligible. Did they ever have a release with that name while they were with Dylan? Either way, they’re not “The Band,” so “The Band” is not eligible. Believe me, I’m sorry to have to rule out one of my two favorite backing bands.

  90. Good one – and a band with a country artist who didn’t hold his nose at rock ‘n roll!

  91. Yes, they have records out with their name on it supporting that woman Sharon Jones (?).

  92. They were, a couple of times.

  93. That fact that you took the time to point this out shows great rigor, eh. I think you’re onto something. Sadly, The Raiders are OUT of the running.

  94. I meant to give you Mad props! for suggesting this Battle Royale a few days ago. The Pussycats may be a go!

  95. OK, this performance gets off to a fine start despite the preponderance of longcoats, the other guitarist’s frequent Rock Squats, and – sorry, I must divert my gaze from the musician behind the Rock Squatting guitarist…

    The lyrics are beyond stupid, but I know deep down anything Prince sings is in the glory of the Lord (or at least ELO and ZZ Top), right? The instrumental breaks are pretty good despite the – sorry, I need to divert my wandering eye as it finds itself focusing on the one band member I was sworn to ignore.

    As I was saying, I wish the instrumental breaks were punctuated by something other than the sound of a Yamaha DX7 or slap bass, but the groove was good. IF – a huge IF – IF I were the good-time, dancing party machine that I can understand folks assume I am, I would enjoy dancing to this song, even partying it up. It’s way on the good side of what I’ve heard of him, but it’s short of Sly and the Family Stone, Marvin Gaye, and the like. Thanks for sharing – seriously.

  96. cherguevara

    Elton John’s band doesn’t have a name, does it?

  97. ladymisskirroyale

    The Bad Seeds and The Banshees.

  98. ladymisskirroyale

    Oh geez, just saw The Bad Seeds at #1. I need reading glasses.

  99. It’s OK, ladymiss, it happens to the best of us. The Banshees were also suggested.

  100. trigmogigmo

    “Rebel” it is, then!

    If the Spiders miss out by 1 slot, I would put them in a Rebel Rebel consolation conference.

  101. trigmogigmo

    I would not nominate — due to some kind of rule violation — “Terry & the Lovemen”, aka XTC who recorded a (good) song on the enjoyable XTC tribute album A Testimonial Dinner. I mean, who’s Terry? Which ones are the Lovemen? Besides, one obscure song does not qualify a backing band for a tournament entry.

  102. BigSteve

    (Sam the Sham &) The Pharaohs.

  103. Please don’t forget the great reggae backing bands. I’d include both The Wailers and The Maytals in the Rebels group.

    How about vocal-only backing groups? You could include The Pips and/or The Jordanaires in the Classic bracket.

    And The Mescaleros were just coming into their own when Strummer left too soon.

  104. EXCELLENT call on those reggae backing bands!!!

    I’ll consider vocal backing groups, if there’s a groundswell of support.

  105. Keep ’em coming. Let’s see if we can submit all entries by midnight tonight (Thursday, December 8). Then we can release the brackets by the weekend. Thanks!

  106. hrrundivbakshi

    Mike & the Mechanics


  107. hrrundivbakshi

    You are a true gentleman, Mod. You may now comment on the antics of Dr. Fink, if you wish.

    Thank you for your response,


  108. Pince nez: they use a plus sign, not an ampersand. I reserve the right to exclude all backing bands introduced by a plus sign…

  109. big brother and the holding co. in the classic conference

  110. The rumour rules. That would be my nomination but you beat me to it.

  111. alexmagic

    I’m getting a lot of strong offlist support asking me to nominate the Blizzards of Cuby + Blizzards fame, Mod, so be ready to deal with some huge backlash on this one.

  112. Hey, I said I might play that card. I’ll only pull that out if The Mechanics’ bid seems likely.

  113. Some of the rulings are confusing me, but what about the Blue Notes (as in, Harold Melvin &…)?

  114. Welcome aboard, gminnj! As a newcomer I will apologize to you for the complex rules; that is sometimes part of the tongue-partially-in-cheek style of discourse we get into. In other words, I’m making things difficult for fun.

    I was originally not going to include backing vocal groups, but since a few folks put forth key vocal backing groups like the Pips, I’ll keep an open mind. My only problem with the fantastic Blue Notes is that one of them, Teddy Pendergrass, was actually the band’s key lead singer.

    We look forward to your continued input.

  115. machinery

    two more here:

    1.) the holding company
    2.) the mothers of invention

  116. hrrundivbakshi

    Perhaps the coolest-sounding backing band name: the MINDBENDERS!

    …as in… Wayne Fontana and…

  117. The Revolution’s fine, but no love for The Time? Jellybean Johnson, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis?


  118. hrrundivbakshi loves him some Time. We may have to include both bands just to see them meet up in the semis.

  119. As the process of weeding down suggested backing bands for the 64 bids gets going I will need your advice on a few possible contestants.

    Should there be more than one Mothers of Invention in the tournament, or only the original version? I can tell you that there’s a good chance that the early Magic Band and late-period Magic Band may each make it, so strange things can happen.

    Is there any love for the Famous Flames and/or the JBs? I was shocked I had to suggest them so late in the game, but maybe folks were still stewing about the exclusion of a beloved backing band on technicalities. I find no argument for not including both, unless one or both are disqualified on a technicality.

  120. alexmagic

    The JBs absolutely have to be on there. In my opinion, they’re the team to beat.

  121. hrrundivbakshi

    I do love the Time, but they weren’t the backing band for anybody.

    The only reason I didn’t jump straight outta the gate with the JBs was because I thought THE RULES forbad any band that didn’t follow a [name] and [the names] convention. I blame the Moderator!

  122. hrrundivbakshi

    “forbade,” sorry.

    Thy humble servant,


  123. I make the rules to abide by them. If wrong I will accept the ruling.

  124. Happiness Stan

    Who went on to have a hit without mad Wayne with Groovy Kind of Love, of course, bummed around for a few years and then became half of 10cc. Either of those could be considered pretty cool in my eyes.

  125. Neil Young’s- International Harvesters

  126. hrrundivbakshi

    Oh! Oh! Oh! The Mysterians!

  127. hrrundivbakshi

    The Drells

    The All-Stars

  128. BigSteve

    No one has mentioned the Impostors. My prediction is that the Attractions are going to win anyway, but do the Impostors rate a separate entry? Or is it Attractions/Impostors?

  129. machinery

    Nice. But I’ve always considered ? and the mysterians as a whole band.

  130. They could, I guess. It’s too bad they haven’t had better material to work with.

  131. John Hiatt’s band the Goners which featured future Imposter Davy Farager.

  132. plasticsun

    The Upsetters – Lee Perry’s band

  133. ladymisskirroyale

    Meg White.

  134. bostonhistorian

    The rules would appear to discount the Mar-Keys, the greatest backing band of all-time. The competition is over before it begins.

  135. diskojoe

    How about the Dakotas, as in Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, who were an established band before Brian Epstein had the idea of sticking Billy J. in the lead singer role & furnishing them w/Lennon-McCartney songs?

  136. alexmagic