DISCing ‘The Band’ shows why their break-up was inevitable – and how to fix your team.

“This wheel shall explode.”

“This wheel shall explode.”

I mentioned the DISC profile of The Band the other day in church. Here is a fuller explication, first posted last August. Note that in the video I put Levon Helm on Si, but that was a mistake. He was Is, as I have him here. Other than Neil Peart (Ci), I can’t think of a non-Incandescent drummer. –GSS

There ain’t no more ’cane on the Brazos?

Sad but true. It’s all been ground up in resentments. Nothing left for anyone to do.

Do you love The Band like I do? Deep, meaningful songs, call and response vocals, layered harmonies and a rich, loving, very familial instrumentation on stage. Of the roots-music revival acts that broke in 1968, The Band was the most original in is rootsiness – the most authentically rooted.

But as a social machine, they were doomed from the outset – a house divided against itself from the time they went out on their own. If anything, they lasted longer and achieved more than they could have been expected to, given the DISC profiles of the members of the group.


  • Robbie Robertson – Ci
  • Levon Helm – Is
  • Rick Danko – Sc
  • Richard Manuel – Sc
  • Garth Hudson – Cs

The Band was very proud to tell the world it never had a front man. That was true on stage. The vocals were split among Levon, Rick and Richard, with the look-at-me! lead guitar role held by a Cautious introvert.

But every social machine needs the energies of the Driven to get anywhere, and The Band had none. Or double-none, if you prefer. Their original fuel came from Ronnie Hawkins, an Id, who was their front man when they were Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks. That energy was massively fortified by Bob Dylan, very much Di, who was the force who made The Band big enough to play stadium shows.

With those two father figures off stage, the drama of The Band plays out like Mister Maybe’s divorce: When The Hawks sent Ronnie Hawkins packing, Levon Helm was to be the boss. Except he was an Is good ol’ boy who found being bossy (or being bossed) rude and alienating. Predictably, Robbie Robertson seized the driving wheel and never let it go, writing most of the songs and, eventually, leaning hard on the others to get any work done at all.

Why was that such a problem? Because Robertson is weak on Sociability where the other four are strongly Sociable. He couldn’t offer a poetic leadership, the kind of Driven leadership that makes Sociable people, particularly, move heaven and earth for the boss. And the leadership he could provide was perceived by the others as being both trivializing – infantilizing – and aggressive. He thought they were lazy. They thought he was high-handed. And the resentments festered year-by-year, with no one to take the pain away.

You can see all of this in The Last Waltz, and it jumps off of every page of Barney Hoskyns’ Across the Great Divide. And you can see it as plain as day in the encore of the concert that was the basis for The Last Waltz, where the featured act is not The Band performing one of their own fan favorites but is instead Bob Dylan bellowing Forever Young.

With a Di or an Id as front man, The Band might still be together and performing today – although the only remaining original member might be that front man. But lacking that Driven will to win and that Incandescent need for mass adulation – the two characteristics that made Mick Jagger a superannuated rock legend – The Band was a struggling bar band that accidentally hit it big. They broke up well beyond the apogee of their arc of success, sparing us all the sad story of their ultimate reversion to the mean.

And all that is illustrative of the benefit of my way of thinking about DISC: A simple analysis of the DISC profiles of your family members or teammates will tell you why your social machine is not working as well as it could – and how to go about fixing it. Why bother? To get the job done, of course, with maximum happiness all around. As a side benefit, if you get your team motivated toward the achievement of your common goals, you won’t have to worry about someone making a film celebrating your nasty break-up.

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