Following the tragic death of concert promoter Bill Graham, a gathering of musical acts and music fans assembled in Golden State Park to pay tribute to his life and legacy. Among the acts were The Grateful Dead and Neil Young who delivered a touching performance of Bob Dylan song ‘Forever Young’.
October 25th, 1991, Graham was in a helicopter on his way back from speaking with Huey Lewis at his concern in Concord, California, when the chopper crashed into a high-voltage tower and killed Graham and everyone inside the. The promoter was meeting Lewis to see if he would perform at a charity event for a recent firestorm in Oakland.
Within days of the news, an event began to take shape at San Francisco’s Golden State Park which saw everyone from Joe Satriani to Santana to Robin Williams, Joan Baez and Kris Kristofferson take to the stage. But arguably the most poignant moment came from San Francisco’s favourite sons, The Grateful dead and their friend, Neil Young.
Young was in attendance as part of the Crosby, Stills Nash and Young set and was happy to stick around for The Grateful Dead’s closing of the show. During the performance, the Dead also welcomed John Fogerty to the stage for a few Creedence Clearwater numbers marking some of the first times they had been played in decades—but it was Young’s introduction which stole the show.
Bob Dylan, a friend of the Dead’s himself, was not in attendance due to ongoing tour commitments but he did, according to Young pass on something else. “I got a letter here from Bob,” Young says in the clip below before beginning the song, ‘Forever Young’. “It’s too big to read, so we’re going to have to play and sing it to you.”
The two artists melt together seamlessly, integrating Young’s notable vocal with the Dead’s expert playing means this is one of the most memorable Bob Dylan covers of all time. The fact that the performance is so highly emotional show just how much Graham meant to his community.
It remains the only time Young ever performed with the Dead and the only time the band ever covered Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’, you can watch it all go down below.