There are only a few times that Bob Dylan has been swallowed up by the performers on stage around him. One such time was the moment when Dylan was at a low point in his career and he joined The Grateful Dead for a rousing tour. Another came at the height of Dylan’s power but the all-star band around him is truly like no other.
When we say an all-star band, we truly mean it. Expect to see Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Stephen Stills, Ronnie Wood and Van Morrison are all on stage at once in the clip below.
The incredible moment came when The Band, once part of the touring group for Dylan but had since forged their own career, were commencing their farewell concert. The show took place on Thanksgiving Day on November 25th, 1976, at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom and was packed full of genuine superstars.
The concert lasted for four hours and welcomed a truly overwhelming cast of singers and musicians that saw all of the greatest artists of the sixties join forces for a rollicking final performance of ‘I Shall Be Released’. Aside from the cast of singers, there was also fittingly brilliant ream of tunes from The Band which signified why they required such an all-star list of players.
The end of the concert saw Dylan walk out on stage in a floppy white pimp hat, a polka dot shirt and a knowing smirk. For those smart alecs in the audience, it was the exact costuming the singer wore on his original 1966 tour with the group. After knocking out a small list of Dylan’s hits, Robbie Robertson of The Band asked the freewheelin’ Bob Dylan to stay out on stage for the grand finale.
On the finale, The Band welcomed all of the guests from the night on stage to sing a song written by Dylan, ‘I Shall Be Released’ which featured on the band’s 1968 song Music from The Big Pink.
The song may have been covered by a host of incredible artists including Jeff Buckley, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Bette Midler, The Byrds, Nina Simone, Jerry Garcia Band, The Hollies, Lisa Loeb, Michael McDonald, Elvis Presley to name a few.
In our mind, there hasn’t been a better version of this song than when Bob Dylan, The Band, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Stephen Stills, Ronnie Wood and Van Morrison joined together to sing ‘I Shall Be Released’ back in 1976.