What’s better than seeing Bob Dylan singing his iconic tune ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’? Seeing him perform it for 100,000 people backed by The Rolling Stones’ guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, that’s what. At least, this was what was promised.
Below we’re looking back at that very dream combo as Dylan, Richards, and Wood turn into a nightmare show as the trio perform the legendary track at Live Aid in 1985 in a spectacularly awful fashion. Unfortunately, in a show which was meant to see the three legends deliver a stripped-back performance of the iconic song to the sea of smiling faces, it falls down from the very first notes. However, the performance was introduced by none other than Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson and that’s gotta be worth something, right?
The reason to have all of these huge names in rock ‘n’ roll was a benevolent one—the brilliant Live Aid. Joining an unstoppably impressive line-up that included the reunion of Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Crosby, Stills Nash and Young in reuniting for a special performance at Live Aid in 1985. The event was a dual-venue benefit concert and saw some incredible acts take to the stage in aid of those affected by the ongoing Ethiopian famine.
The gigantic show was billed as the “global jukebox” with two concerts being held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London—attended by 72,000 people—and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States which was attended by about 100,000 people.
An estimated 1.9 billion people (40% of the world’s population) watched the legendary gig unfurl and the opportunity to perform for such a global audience was too much for the three musicians to turn down.
The introduction from someone like Nicholson truly is a mark of Dylan’s iconography. “Some artists’ work speaks for itself. Some artists speak for a generation. It’s my deep personal pleasure to present to you one of America’s great voices of freedom, it can only mean one man, the transcendent, Bob Dylan!” with such an intro there was a lot to live up to.
As Leonard Cohen would tell you, Dylan has a secret code with his audience and he knows when to push the envelope and when to drop the hits. Sometimes he lands and sometimes he falls flat on his face. While there have certainly been worse performances from the freewheelin’ troubadour, none quite so wildly public.
Here, in front of 1.9 billion people across the globe, he tried to deliver simple message of hope. Backed by Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood watch Bob Dylan perform ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ back in 1985.