Waylon Jennings once said, emphatically, that nothing is more important for a solo artist than having his or her own band. Oftentimes such bands fly beneath the radar, but occasionally a backing group attains near-legendary status. Below are 10 groups whose contributions were indispensable in boosting the careers of the artists they backed.


The Spiders from Mars (David Bowie)
David Bowie has employed extraordinary bands through the years, but none has matched the explosive chemistry of The Spiders from Mars. Led by the immensely talented Mick Ronson, the Spiders provided the rocket fuel that propelled Bowie to the pinnacle of early ’70s glam rock. From 1970’s The Man Who Sold the World through 1973’s Pinups, the group’s contributions were indispensable.


The Band (Bob Dylan)
It’s hard to believe that some fans jeered when Bob Dylan, backed by a group dubbed, simply, The Band, made a transition to a more electric sound in 1965-66. As demonstrated by the brilliant body of work they crafted following their tenure with Dylan, The Band was as talented an ensemble as Dylan could have hoped for. “Songwriting-wise, when you get right down to it, Bob pretty much showed us how it’s done,” Levon Helm later said. “When the crowds were booing him, and people were telling him, ‘You don’t need these guys,’ it would have been real easy for him to say, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ But he never got shaky or unsteady. He was fantastic.”


The Heartbreakers (Tom Petty)
Tom Petty has released the occasional solo album, but over the course of 30-plus years he’s never strayed from The Heartbreakers for very long. Mike Campbell, whose lead guitar work dovetails perfectly with Petty’s jangly style, summed up the band’s relationship with Petty perfectly in a 2009 interview with Music Radar. “Keeping a band together is more work than anybody will ever tell you," Campbell said. “But if you have something special, a bunch of guys who play well together, and a brilliant singer and writer who's truly unique, you owe it to yourself and your fans to keep going.”


The Revolution (Prince)
The Revolution forever will be known as the band that helped shape Prince’s 1984 tour de force, Purple Rain. A multi-racial, multi-gender ensemble patterned after Sly and the Family Stone, The Revolution brought a more rock-centric, psychedelic component to Prince’s trademark funk and R&B. Although The Revolution were credited on just three Prince albums, it was their contributions that pushed their legendary frontman to superstar heights.


Booker T. & The M.G.’s (Various)
No band played a bigger role in shaping the sound of Southern soul music than Booker T. & The M.G.’s did. As the house band for Stax Records, the group – which included Steve Cropper on guitar – served as the instrumental force on recordings by Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and countless other R&B greats. Not insignificantly, Booker T. & The M.G.’s were also one of R&B’s first multi-racial groups. Fittingly, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.


The Experience (Jimi Hendrix)
Bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell often get short shrift when it comes to considerations of the role they played in shaping Jimi Hendrix’s music. As the backbone of one of rock’s earliest power trios, Redding and Mitchell put down the rhythmic foundation upon which Hendrix could soar. Engineer Eddie Kramer once told Rolling Stone that Hendrix would “yell and scream” at Redding and Mitchell if they didn’t get things just right. Fortunately, the two got things “just right” nearly all the time.


The Attractions (Elvis Costello)
Teaming with Elvis Costello beginning with his second album, This Year’s Model, The Attractions put manic fervor into Costello’s brilliantly crafted songs. Often centered on surf-rock blasts of Hammond organ that teetered on the edge of mayhem, The Attractions’ music evoked thoughts of Booker T. & The M.G.’s on steroids. Members of The Attractions continue to play with Costello as part of his current touring band, The Imposters.


The Wailers (Bob Marley)
The original Wailers consisted, of course, of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. However, it’s the band Marley put together in the wake of the original Wailers’ demise that became reggae’s tightest and most exciting ensemble. The band’s legendary prowess was in part attributable to Marley’s skills as a bandleader. “Bob was very strict, and very disciplined,” Rita Marley once said, in an interview with Gibson.com. “He would make sure every note, and every sound, was as perfect as it could be. It was like, ‘Let’s do the absolutely best we can, and after that we can laugh, and have a smoke.’”


The E Street Band (Bruce Springsteen)
Few bands have sported more talent than the illustrious team that’s backed Bruce Springsteen – for the most part – since 1972. Unfortunately, the group has suffered tragic losses in recent years, with the deaths of both organist Danny Federici and saxophonist Clarence Clemmons. In live shows, quite rightly, Springsteen is known to praise the group with lavish, often funny introductions of each band member.


Crazy Horse (Neil Young)
Neil Young has always charted his own course, making albums that often flagrantly confounded expectations. Whenever he’s wanted to make aggressive, no-holds-barred rock and roll, however, he’s nearly always turned to Crazy Horse. “My work with Crazy Horse stands alone,” Young once said, in an interview with Performing Songwriter. “I’ve made rock and roll records with other people – I did ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ without them – but that’s a different kind of thing. Working with Crazy Horse opens the door to something cosmic, something I can’t do with anybody else.”