Nelson, who hailed from Madison, Wisconsin, began her career as a solo artist, but formed the Mother Earth ensemble after moving to San Francisco. The group performed at the Fillmore West in the late 1960s alongside Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Burdon, and was included on the soundtrack to the 1968 film Revolution. The group signed to Mercury Records, recording four albums. Mike Bloomfield played guitar on their 1968 release Living with the Animals and Boz Scaggs was a member of the group on their 1969 release Make A Joyful Noise. In addition to blues, the early incarnation of the group displayed influences from gospel, r&b, jazz, country and even a touch of psychedelia. After the first album, Mother Earth moved their base of operations from the Bay Area to a farm outside Nashville. The nucleus of the band solidified around Nelson, keyboardist Andy McMahon and guitarist John Andrews. Their manager and producer was Travis Rivers. Nelson was an astute judge of up-and-coming songwriters and was an early supporter of then largely unknown names like John Hiatt, Steve Young and Eric Kaz. Mother Earth's version of Young's "Seven Bridges Road" predates the Eagles' cover by at least ten years. After two LPs with Reprise Records & one with Columbia Records the ensemble continued to tour as Nelson's backup band but did not record anymore. They finally called it quits in early 1977. Tracy Nelson meanwhile began recording as a solo artist in 1974, issuing LPs on Atlantic, MCA, Adelphi and Flying Fish.