On this day in 1985, Bob Dylan almost sent Bob Geldof's Live Aid off the rails:
In his autobiography, "Is That It?", Geldof puts it this way
For me the biggest disappointment of the evening was Dylan. He sang three of his classics, including "Blowin' in the Wind", which ought to have been one of the greatest moments of the concert. Unfortunately, the performance was catastrophic. He had met Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood in a night club in New York the night before and they had offered to back him. So, there they were - pop music's seminal songwriter and the world's greatest rhythm guitarist and his partner. But they were out of time, they couldn't stay in tune and they seemed to treat the song with disdain. (I later heard that the curtain had dropped between them and their monitors, so that they couldn't hear themselves perform.) Then he displayed a a complete lack of understanding of the issues raised by Live Aid by saying, unforgivably, 'It would be nice if some of this money went to the American farmers." Something so simplistic and crowd-pleasing was beyond belief. Live Aid was about people losing their lives. There is a radical difference between losing your livelihood and losing your life. It did instigate Farm Aid, which was a good thing in itself but it was a crass, stupid, nationalistic thing to say. It was to have been the finale but thank God Ken Kragen had persuaded Lionel Richie to come and sing "We Are the World". Dylan left the stage and as he walked by his manager, he just looked up and said, "Sorry."Author Michael Gray called it, "the most disheveled, debilitatingly drunk performance of his career" and refers to his remarks as "breath-takingly insensitive" but adds, "...there was nothing dishonourable in Dylan's being, as he visibly was, desperately embarrassed by the whole spectacle of these superstars patting themselves on the back while advancing their global profiles in the name of charity - so that one might not rush to judgment on Dylan's failure to "behave himself".
From his infamous speech to the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee to his Newport '65 performance to his Born-again 'raps' of the late seventies to any one of his appearances on the Grammies, Dylan has proved that he will not "behave himself" in front of a crowd, especially one that expects him to play "voice of a generation". Maybe Gedof, who relished misbehaving in his role as the leader of the Boomtown Rats, should've seen it coming.
"Bob Dylan told me to look at Woody Guthrie, and I did. I took the name Boomtown Rats from his book, Bound For Glory."Bob Geldof
P.S . For his 2005 compilation, Under the Influence, Geldof chose Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" so maybe all is forgiven...
So commenters, what do you make now, twenty-five years later (!) of Dylan's performance at Live Aid?
More Powerpearls compilations to come, regular readers but Marky Dread reminded me to tell you about all this...