There are bands, and there are solo artists, but even those in the latter category generally find success only if they have a strong musician support team. Often such teams fly beneath the radar, but occasionally a backing group attains near-legendary status in its own right. Below are 10 such bands, each of which were indispensable in helping propel their leader to fame and glory.

The Spiders from Mars (David Bowie)

David Bowie

Few artists have put together as many great backing ensembles as David Bowie did, but among them all, the Spiders from Mars tower above the rest. Let by the explosively talented Mick Ronson, the Spiders provided the rocket fuel that propelled Bowie to the pinnacle of early ‘70s glam rock. Over the course of five studio albums, from 1970’s The Man Who Sold the World through 1973’s Pinups, the group’s contributions were indispensable.

The Band (Bob Dylan)

Hard to believe, but some fans actually jeered The Band as they backed Bob Dylan onstage during Dylan’s transition to a more electric sound in the mid ‘60s. Fact is, The Band was as talented an ensemble as Dylan could have hoped for. “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,’” drummer Levon Helm later said. “But he never got shaky or unsteady. He was fantastic.”

The Revolution (Prince)

Purple Rain

Even if The Revolution had done nothing more than back Prince on his 1984 Purple Rain album, their place in rock history would be assured. 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 group was credited on just three Prince albums, their contributions were essential in helping push their legendary frontman to superstar heights.

The Heartbreakers (Tom Petty)

Notwithstanding the occasional solo album, Tom Petty has rarely strayed from the Heartbreakers for very long. And who can blame him? Lead guitarist Mike Campbell summed up the band’s relationship with Petty perfectly in a 2009 interview. “Keeping a band together is more work than anybody will ever tell you," Campbell told Music Radar. “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 E Street Band (Bruce Springsteen)

Few bands have sported more talent and chemistry than the illustrious team that’s backed Bruce Springsteen--for the most part--since 1972. Despite tragic losses—specifically, the sad and untimely deaths of organist Danny Federici and saxophonist Clarence Clemmons—the ensemble remains a powerhouse. In live shows, Springsteen is often known to praise individual members of the group with lavishly affectionate, funny introductions.

The Experience (Jimi Hendrix)

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix’s vast talents and charisma sometimes obscure the role that the Experience played in the legendary guitarist’s rise to fame. As the backbone of one of rock’s earliest power trios, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell put down the rhythmic foundation upon which Hendrix could soar. Engineer Eddie Kramer once said Hendrix would sometimes “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.

Booker T. & The M.G.’s (Various)

No band played a larger role in shaping 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 seminal recordings by Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and many other R&B greats. It’s also worth noting that Booker T. & The M.G.’s were one of R&B’s first multi-racial groups. In a justly deserved honor, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

The Wailers (Bob Marley)

Bob Marley

As every reggae aficionado knows, the original Wailers consisted Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. However, it’s the group Marley put together following the original Wailers’ demise that became the genre’s tightest and most exciting ensemble. “As a bandleader, Bob was very strict and very disciplined,” Rita Marley once told this writer. “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 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 sometimes sounded like 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.

Crazy Horse (Neil Young)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Neil Young has always charted his own course, making albums that often confounded fans and critics alike. But whenever he’s wanted to make aggressive, no-holds-barred rock and roll, he’s nearly always turned to Crazy Horse. “My work with Crazy Horse stands alone,” Young once told this writer. “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.”