“Bob Dylan is the most consistent artist there is. Even his stuff which people loathe, I like.” — George Harrison
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to revisit one of the most gut-wrenching performances we’ve ever witnessed, as George Harrison takes to the stage for one of the final times to pay tribute to his friend Bob Dylan.
The longtime friendship between Dylan and The Beatles’ very own George Harrison is a long one. A relationship deeply entrenched in the joy of one another’s creativity and the emboldening of their character. In fact, in 1992, Dylan would be the major reason for Harrison to come out of comparative hiding and perform for what would be one of the final times.
The legendary ‘Quiet Beatle‘ had been out from underneath the large shadow that the Fab Four had cast for a few years now, and he was now a worthy artist in his own right. His iconic album All Things Must Pass had ascertained Harrison his legendary status on record and had seen the guitarist become a mainstage act. But, despite all his experience, Harrison was never a big fan of touring after his treacherous 1974 tour.
The pain of that tour with Ravi Shankar had clearly landed quite heavily on Harrison and, for many years, despite commercial success like his 1987 record Cloud Nine, the Quiet Beatle was, for the main part, remaining quiet. The tour is often seen as a pivotal moment in Harrison’s career as he came face to face with a world that perhaps wasn’t quite ready for him and was hoping for The Beatles.
Yet in 1990, something seemed to change as Harrison looked as if he gearing up for a new tour of his own for the first time since 1974. After sharing the stage in Los Angeles in 1990, Harrison, seemingly dipping his toe into the touring water, joined the legendary Eric Clapton for a joint tour of Japan the next year. It had sparked hopes that a more prevalent tour was on the way, but it wasn’t to be.
Harrison and Clapton performed at 12 shows across the land of the rising sun and hinted to Harrison fans that maybe, just maybe, he was due for another run of dates and that 1974 was firmly behind him. But alas, that was only a pipe dream. In fact, Harrison would only perform on a handful of occasions more before losing his battle with lung cancer in 2001.
While his last performances would be an impromptu show at VH1 accompanied by Ravi Shankar in 1997, as well as at the memorial service for Carl Perkins, one of the last times Harrison would take the stage would be all down to his friend Bob Dylan.
The pair had been longtime friends for some years and by 1992 had joined one another on stage on more than a few occasions—their appearance together at Harrison’s ‘Concert For Bangladesh’ being one of the most memorable. However, this time Harrison was paying tribute to his friend Dylan at the 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration at Madison Square Garden.
At the show, a night heralding the genius of Bob Dylan, Harrison arrived on stage near the end of the evening and performed ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie’ and ‘If Not for You’ before he joined the large ensemble of musical stars for ‘My Back Pages’ and ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.
It would be one of the last times he would ever perform.
Watch below as George Harrison pays tribute to Bob Dylan in 1992.