November 25, 1976 ~ Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, The Staple Singers, Ronnie Hawkins, and Dr. John join The Band for The Last Waltz, a farewell concert for the ages.
It’s at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, the site of their very first performance together as The Band, way back in 1969. Martin Scorsese, Band friend and fan, agrees to film the event. Production designer Boris Leven acquires the set of Verdi’s La Traviata from the San Francisco Opera and has it set up as the stage backdrop. Robertson gets his ’59 Stratocaster guitar dipped in bronze, “like baby shoes,” for the occasion.
Before the show, Thanksgiving dinner is served to the 5,000 attendees, a feat requiring 6,000 pounds of turkey and 400 pounds of pumpkin pie. Once the show begins, the Band shares the stage with some of the biggest acts of the era. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell sing “Helpless” together. Van Morrison rips through “Caravan.” Eric Clapton hits “Further Up the Road.” Bob Dylan leads a mass jam of “I Shall Be Released,” which is intended to be the final song. When the crowd refuses to let it end, the musicians head out and finish things off with “Don’t Do It.”
The show goes down as a high-water mark of both rock concerts and rock documentaries after Scorsese’s The Last Waltz is released on April 26, 1978.In 1989, the Band is inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Five years later, they gain entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
October 30, 1975 ~ Orpheus performs the first show of his Rolling Thunder Revue at the War Memorial Auditorium in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Joan Baez, Bob Neuwrith, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Roger McGuinn, and other rock n’ roll gypsies join in. If you haven’t seen the rock-doc, do it. Do it now.
Bob Dylan plays Carnegie Hall in New York City. He played a solo set and then introduced his new backup band – Rick Danko on bass; Robbie Robertson on guitar; Garth Hudson on the organ; Richard Manuel on piano and Levon Helm on drums. From then they would be known simply as – The Band.
Can you believe there are unreleased Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash duets out there in the world? Well, there are. Dylan and Cash, two of the all-time great icons of American music, were friends and mutual admirers, and they liked playing music together, but we don’t have too much record of it.
Released on August 30, 195, it’s #4 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and includes the greatest rock ‘n roll song of all time: “Like A Rolling Stone.”
Orpheus named the album after the highway which connected his birthplace of Duluth, Minnesota, to southern cities famed for their musical heritage, including St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and the Delta blues area of Mississippi.
August 29, 1987 ~ Zevon’s back after a 5-year hiatus and enlists some notables in the effort.Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills, back up Zevon on this album and fellow R.E.M. alum Michael Stipe appears on the album providing vocals and harmony on the song “Bad Karma”. Dylan and Neil Young are there, too; Orpheus playing harmonica on “The Factory” and Shakey does lead guitar on the title track.
Orpheus releases Slow Train Coming on August 20, 1979. Like many of his albums, it’s controversial among fans. Dylan lays his personal faith on the line which doesn’t sit well with many of his tight-ass fans. But the album also welcomes many new fans to the work of Orpheus. He wins a Grammy for best male vocal performance and the album gives him his first hit single in three years.