|North American tour by Bob Dylan|
Harvard Square Theater concert poster, November 20, 1975
|Start date||October 30, 1975|
|End date||May 25, 1976|
|No. of shows||57|
First leg: 30
Second leg: 27
|Bob Dylan concert chronology|
The Rolling Thunder Revue was a 1975–1976 concert tour by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan with numerous musicians and previous collaborators. The purpose of the tour was to allow Dylan, who had now become a major recording artist and concert performer, to play in smaller auditoriums in less populated cities where he could be more intimate with his audiences.
Some of the performers on the tour were Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Ronee Blakely and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Bob Neuwirth assembled the backing musicians from the Desire sessions, including violinist Scarlet Rivera, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Howie Wyeth. The tour included 57 concerts in two legs—the first in the American northeast and Canada in the fall of 1975, and the second in the American South and southwest in the spring of 1976.
The release of Desire in January 1976 fell between the two legs of the tour, with many of the songs performed in the first leg taken from that yet-to-be released album. The tour was thoroughly documented through film, sound recording, and in print.A documentary about the tour, directed by Martin Scorsese, titled Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese , was released by Netflix and in select theaters in June 2019.
The idea behind the tour, Dylan said, was to "play for the people," the people who never get good seats at his larger concerts due to higher ticket cost and inconvenient locations. Dylan chose to play in smaller auditoriums because, he said, "the atmosphere in small halls is more conducive to what we do."His New York musician friend David Blue felt that Dylan clearly wanted to get back to being closer to his audience after becoming a major music star:
Bob's just an ordinary fucking guy, a great songwriter who got swept up in this whole fame thing and was smart enough to know how to control it, who rode with it and was shrewd, damn shrewd. And now he's just paying everyone back with this tour. It's like a family scene.
Dylan named the tour after hearing the continuous sounds of thunder one day.He conceived the tour in the summer of 1975 while he was living in Greenwich Village, and began co-writing with his friend, Jacques Levy, with whom he wrote various songs, including "Hurricane".
In October 1975, soon after completing Desire, Dylan held rehearsals for his second tour in two years (following an eight-year hiatus) at New York City's midtown Studio Instrument Rentals space. Bassist Rob Stoner, drummer/pianist Howie Wyeth and violinist Scarlet Rivera were retained from the Desire sessions for the rehearsals. Joining them were T-Bone Burnett (electric guitar, piano), Steven Soles (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, backing vocals) and David Mansfield (dobro, mandolin, violin, pedal steel guitar). Although the trio had been dismissed during the Desire sessions in an attempt to focus the overall production, Dylan yielded to his original instincts and decided to rehire them for the tour. [ citation needed ] Luther Rix (drums, percussion) was also added at an indeterminate point.
When rehearsals began, many of the musicians were apparently uninformed about plans for an upcoming tour. At the same time, Dylan was casually inviting others to join in with the band. According to Stoner, the group rehearsed "for like a day or two – it [was] not really so much a rehearsal as like a jam, tryin' to sort it out. Meanwhile all these people who eventually became the Rolling Thunder Revue started dropping in. Joan Baez was showing up. Roger McGuinn was there. They were all there. We had no idea what the purpose for these jams was, except we were being invited to jam."
According to Lou Kemp, a friend of Dylan's who eventually organized the tour, the Rolling Thunder Revue "would go out at night and run into people, and we'd just invite them to come with us. We started out with a relatively small group of musicians and support people, and we ended up with a caravan."Uninterested in performing in a country/folk milieu, Patti Smith amicably declined Dylan's invitation. Bruce Springsteen also turned down an invitation "because he had plenty of touring commitments of his own and was on a roll" following the breakthrough success of Born to Run , released that August. However, Dylan did add one surprising element to the Rolling Thunder Revue when Mick Ronson agreed to join the tour. Ronson was the lead guitarist and arranger in David Bowie's former backing band, The Spiders from Mars.
Another musician invited on the tour was introduced to Dylan on October 22, when Dylan went to see David Blue perform at The Other End. It was there that he met Ronee Blakley, the actress/singer who had recently starred in Robert Altman's celebrated film Nashville . At the end of Blue's show, Blakley joined Dylan on-stage for a few songs, joined by poet Allen Ginsberg and guitarist Kenny Davis; afterwards, Dylan extended her an invitation to join the Rolling Thunder Revue. She initially declined due to prior commitments, but eventually changed her mind and appeared at rehearsals two days later.She later recalled:
Oh I loved him, right away, just loved him. He was exactly what I thought he would be like. Funny and mysterious and shy and dear and vulnerable.
However, the same day Blakley showed up for rehearsal, Dylan returned to the recording studio to re-record "Hurricane" (due to legal concerns involving the song's original lyrics).Employing Blakley as a substitute for Emmylou Harris (who had prior engagements to attend to), Dylan quickly recut "Hurricane", the last recorded work done for Desire before its release in January 1976.
On October 23, 1975, owner Mike Porco's 61st birthday, Dylan and a group of friends took over Gerde's Folk City as the main show was ending. Dylan and Joan Baez sang "One Too Many Mornings", followed onstage by Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Eric Andersen, Patti Smith, Arlen Roth, Bette Midler, Buzzy Linhart, Phil Ochs and others. Dylan and his group brought in lights and cameras and filmed the session, which began well after midnight; a brief scene of Phil Ochs trying to tune Eric Andersen's guitar from open to regular tuning made it into Renaldo and Clara . A week later, on October 30, the Rolling Thunder Revue played its first concert.
Sometime in October, Dylan also contacted an old friend and filmmaker, Howard Alk. Dylan's ambitions apparently included a film of the tour, and Alk accepted Dylan's offer to shoot the film. When the tour rehearsals were still in progress, Alk reportedly began filming scenes in Greenwich Village for possible inclusion in the film.
Dylan contacted actor/playwright Sam Shepard, who was considered a cult figure, to work as the film's screenwriter.He was closely associated with several figures in Dylan's circle, including Jacques Levy, who directed many of Shepard's 1960s Off-Off-Broadway shows, Patti Smith, who was Shepard's former lover and dramatic collaborator, and Allen Ginsberg, who worked with Shepard in 1969. Dylan asked Shepard if he had seen Marcel Carné's Les Enfants du Paradis or François Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player , and told him that those were the kinds of films he wanted to produce on the tour.
While Ginsberg accompanied the tour for most of its 1975 run, his planned recitations, as well as some performances by other Revue members, were cut before the opening date to keep the concerts at a manageable length.
tour violinist Scarlet Rivera
On October 30, Dylan held the first Rolling Thunder Revue show at the War Memorial Auditorium in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Intended to contrast with the bombast of his 1974 tour with The Band, the first leg of the tour was small, spanning only thirty shows. The majority of the first Revue was booked at intimate venues, including smaller arenas, theaters and gymnasia; aside from a four-show Canadian leg and the concluding concerts in the New York metropolitan area, the tour's itinerary was entirely confined to New England. However, the secrecy surrounding the Revue's intended destinations, the new material Dylan was premiering, and the inclusion of Joan Baez on the same bill as Dylan for the first time in a decade ensured prominent media coverage.
On November 2, 1975, the tour stopped at the University of Lowell. Dylan's inspiration for playing Lowell was Jack Kerouac, a pivotal influence on his oeuvre who was born and raised in the city. Dylan, Beat Generation colleague Ginsberg and various band members visited Kerouac's gravesite.
According to Larry Sloman, who documented the tour in On the Road with Bob Dylan (1978), "Onstage it was like a carnival. Bobby Neuwirth and the back-up band [dubbed 'Guam'] warmed up the audience. Next, Dylan ambled on to do about five songs. After intermission, the curtain rose to an incredible sight, Bob and Joan, together again after all these years."
Dylan and Baez often opened the second half of the show duetting in the dark on "Blowin' in the Wind".Then Baez would take center stage with a dynamic six-song set, followed by a solo set from Dylan. He was joined by the band for a few numbers, until the finale song, Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," featuring everyone on stage. The spirit was considered extremely warm, leading to Joni Mitchell, who only intended to play one concert, to stay on for the remaining three nights of the tour.
The dramatic finale of the tour took place on December 8 in Madison Square Garden, where, to an audience of 14,000, Dylan performed a benefit concert for imprisoned boxer and Dylan's latest cause, Rubin Carter.The concert was titled "The Night of The Hurricane," in reference to Dylan's song, "Hurricane", which was released in November 1975. Among those appearing on stage were Muhammad Ali and Coretta Scott King, wife of slain civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr..
Performers included Roberta Flack, Robbie Robertson, Ronee Blakely, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and violinist Scarlet Rivera. In the audience were a number of key political figures, boxers, and movie stars.And at the time of the concert, Carter was an inmate at Trenton State Prison, where he reacted after learning of the benefit on his behalf and the song dedicated to him:
Wow, man. I mean, he took this case, this nine years of whatever, and put it together, wop, like that, and covered every level, every facet of it. I said "Man, this cat's a genius. He's giving the people the truth." And it was inspiring to me. I told myself, "Rubin, you got to keep pushing, 'cause you must be doing something right, you got all these good people coming to try and help you."
Dylan made the surprising theatrical choice of wearing whiteface make-up at many of the shows. In some shows, he walked on stage wearing a plastic mask, only to toss it aside after the first song to play harmonica on "It Ain't Me, Babe."According to Rivera, one heckler asked Dylan "Why are you wearing a mask?" to which Dylan replied, "The meaning is in the words."
There is a critical consensus that the tour failed in one regard, the making of the film Renaldo and Clara .Shepard soon discovered that his nominal function as screenwriter was somewhat superfluous, for much of the film would be entirely improvised with little guidance or direction from Dylan. Shepard elected to record his impressionistic divagations in a journal eventually published as The Rolling Thunder Logbook (1977).
A number of critics highly praised the tour. "The Rolling Thunder Revue shows remain some of the finest music Dylan ever made with a live band", wrote Clinton Heylin. "Gone was the traditionalism of The Band. Instead he found a whole set of textures rarely found in rock. The idea of blending the pedal-steel syncopation of Mansfield, Ronson's glam-rock lead breaks, and Rivera's electric violin made for something as musically layered as Dylan's lyrics...[Dylan] also displayed a vocal precision rare even for him, snapping and stretching words to cajole nuances of meaning from each and every line."According to Riley, "These are rugged and inspired reworkings of many Dylan standards—[Dylan] even talks casually to the audience (now a thing of the past). He lights into a biting electric version of 'It Ain't Me, Babe,' and then a thoroughly convincing rock take of 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll'...and an 'Isis' that makes the Desire take sound like a greeting card."
A second Hurricane Carter benefit was held at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas on January 25, bridging the two legs of the tour. For this performance, Ringo Starr and Joe Vitale augmented the core band. Before the concert, Dylan chose to meet with the man that discovered him, Roy Silver, and Silver's partner, manager Richard Flanzer, for some advice. Flanzer and Silver quickly provided several stars (including Stevie Wonder and Dr. John) to help make this concert the most commercially successful event of the tour, with Dylan giving a strident performance. Dylan asked Flanzer to accompany him on the chartered flight to oversee these guest stars.
Rehearsals for the spring leg were held in Clearwater, Florida during April, and the first show was on April 18 at the Civic Center in Lakeland, Florida. With an itinerary dominated by arenas and stadiums due to the ballooning budget of Renaldo and Clara, the tour continued throughout April and May in the American South and Southwest. (Performances by Dylan and Baez during the Clearwater rehearsals were taped and aired on The Midnight Special .) Although most of the fall complement (including Baez, McGuinn, Ronson and the Neuwirth-led Guam) returned, Elliott, Blakley, Rix, Ginsberg and Shepard moved on to other endeavors. Kinky Friedman and Donna Weiss joined the ensemble as featured performers, essentially replacing the former two, while percussionist Gary Burke replaced Rix.New guests included Dennis Hopper, who recited Rudyard Kipling's "If" at The Warehouse in New Orleans. Joni Mitchell returned to preview two songs ("Black Crow" and "Song for Sharon") from Hejira in Fort Worth.
The penultimate show of the tour took place on May 23 at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado. Comments about it typified the feeling about the spring tour: "Although the band has been playing together longer, the charm has gone out of their exchanges", wrote Tim Riley."The Rolling Thunder Revue, so joyful and electrifying in its first performances, had just plain run out of steam", wrote music critic Janet Maslin for Rolling Stone .
The final Rolling Thunder show took place on May 25. Held at a half-empty Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, it would be Dylan's last performance for twenty-one months (save for a short set backed by The Band at The Last Waltz in November 1976),and it would be another two years before Dylan recorded another album of new material.
Larry Sloman, Rolling Stone writer
The May 23 Colorado show was filmed for the September 1976 NBC television special Hard Rain; the Hard Rain live album containing selections from that and another late May date was released simultaneously. The television special garnered poor reviews and disappointing ratings, despite a TV Guide cover of and interview with Dylan. Live album sales were modest. [ citation needed ]
Dylan and Shepard's completed film, now the symbolist-romance-cum-concert-film Renaldo and Clara , would not be released until 1978 to a largely fallow critical reception.For many years, it was the only official release documenting the live shows from the fall 1975 leg. However, a majority of the film consisted of the haphazard, fictional drama filmed during the tour. Later in 1978, an edited version of the film appeared that omitted many of the dramatic scenes in favor of focusing more on the performances.
Most performances from the fall 1975 tour were professionally recorded (in addition to wide bootlegging). The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue , incorporating performances from a number of the fall shows, saw issue in 2002. As the first official release to capture the Revue at its peak, it was warmly received by fans and critics.In August 2010, a source close to Dylan told Rolling Stone that a documentary about the Rolling Thunder tour had been in development for years and could be released relatively soon.
In June 2019, Netflix released a documentary about the tour, directed by Martin Scorsese, titled Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese.According to Netflix, the film "captures the troubled spirit of America in 1975 and the joyous music that Dylan performed during the fall of that year. Part documentary, part concert film, part fever dream, 'Rolling Thunder' is a one of a kind experience, from master filmmaker Martin Scorsese."
|October 30, 1975||Plymouth||United States||Memorial Hall|
|October 31, 1975|
|November 1, 1975||North Dartmouth||Southeastern Massachusetts University|
|November 2, 1975||Lowell||University of Lowell|
|November 4, 1975||Providence||Providence Civic Center|
|November 6, 1975||Springfield||Springfield Civic Center|
|November 8, 1975||Burlington||Patrick Gym|
|November 9, 1975||Durham||Lundholm Gym|
|November 11, 1975||Waterbury||Palace Theater|
|November 13, 1975||New Haven||Veterans Memorial Coliseum|
|November 15, 1975||Niagara Falls||Niagara Falls Convention Center|
|November 17, 1975||Rochester||Community War Memorial|
|November 19, 1975||Worcester||Worcester Memorial Auditorium|
|November 20, 1975||Cambridge||Harvard Square Theater|
|November 21, 1975||Boston||Boston Music Hall|
|November 22, 1975||Waltham||Brandeis University|
|November 24, 1975||Hartford||Hartford Civic Center|
|November 26, 1975||Augusta||Augusta Civic Center|
|November 27, 1975||Bangor||Bangor Auditorium|
|November 29, 1975||Quebec City||Canada||Colisée de Québec|
|December 1, 1975||Toronto||Maple Leaf Gardens|
|December 2, 1975|
|December 4, 1975||Montreal||Montreal Forum|
|December 7, 1975||Clinton||United States||Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women|
|December 8, 1975||New York City||Madison Square Garden|
|January 25, 1976||Houston||Astrodome|
|April 18, 1976||Lakeland||Lakeland Civic Center|
|April 20, 1976||St. Petersburg||Bayfront Arena|
|April 21, 1976||Tampa||Curtis Hixon Hall|
|April 22, 1976||Belleair||Starlight Ballroom|
|April 23, 1976||Orlando||Orlando Sports Stadium|
|April 25, 1976||Gainesville||University of Florida Field|
|April 27, 1976||Tallahassee||Tully Gymnasium|
|April 28, 1976||Pensacola||UWF Field House|
|April 29, 1976||Mobile||Mobile Expo Hall|
|May 1, 1976||Hattiesburg||Reed Green Coliseum|
|May 3, 1976||New Orleans||The Warehouse|
|May 4, 1976||Baton Rouge||LSU Assembly Center|
|May 8, 1976||Houston||Hofheinz Pavilion|
|May 10, 1976||Corpus Christi||Corpus Christi Memorial Coliseum|
|May 11, 1976||San Antonio||San Antonio Municipal Auditorium|
|May 12, 1976||Austin||Austin Municipal Auditorium|
|May 15, 1976||Gatesville||Gatesville State School for Boys|
|May 16, 1976||Fort Worth||Tarrant County Convention Center|
|May 18, 1976||Oklahoma City||State Fair Arena|
|May 19, 1976||Wichita||Henry Levitt Arena|
|May 23, 1976||Fort Collins||Hughes Stadium|
|May 25, 1976||Salt Lake City||Salt Palace|
Scarlet Rivera, born Donna Shea, is an American violinist. She is best known for her work with Bob Dylan, in particular on his 1976 album Desire and as part of the Rolling Thunder Revue.
Desire is the seventeenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on January 5, 1976 by Columbia Records.
American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has released 38 studio albums, 91 singles, 26 notable extended plays, 50 music videos, 12 live albums, 15 volumes comprising The Bootleg Series, 19 compilation albums, 14 box sets, seven soundtracks as main contributor, five music home videos and two non-music home videos. Dylan has been the subject of six documentaries, starred in three theatrical films, appeared in an additional eight films and 10 home videos, and is the subject of the biographical tribute film I'm Not There. He has written and published lyrics, artwork and memoirs in 11 books and three of his songs have been made into children's books. He has done numerous collaborations, appearances and tribute albums. The albums Planet Waves and Before the Flood were initially released on Asylum Records; reissues of those two and all others were on Columbia Records.
Renaldo and Clara is a 1978 American film directed by Bob Dylan and starring Bob Dylan, Sara Dylan and Joan Baez. Written by Dylan and Sam Shepard, the film incorporates three distinct film genres: concert footage, documentary interviews, and dramatic fictional vignettes reflective of Dylan's song lyrics and life.
Hard Rain is a live album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on September 13, 1976 by Columbia Records. The album was recorded during the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue.
"Hurricane" is a protest song by Bob Dylan co-written with Jacques Levy, about the imprisonment of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. It compiles acts of racism and profiling against Carter, which Dylan describes as leading to a false trial and conviction.
"Coyote" is the opening song from Joni Mitchell's 1976 album Hejira and also the album's first single.
Street-Legal is the 18th studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on June 15, 1978 by Columbia Records. The album was a departure for Dylan, who uses a large pop-rock band including female backing vocalists.
The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue is a live album by Bob Dylan released by Columbia Records in 2002. The third installment in the ongoing Bob Dylan Bootleg Series on Legacy Records, it documents the Rolling Thunder Revue led by Dylan prior to the release of the album Desire. Until the release of this album, the only official live documentation of the Rolling Thunder Revue was Hard Rain, recorded during the second leg of the tour.
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan is a 2005 documentary film by Martin Scorsese that traces the life of Bob Dylan, and his impact on 20th-century American popular music and culture. The film focuses on the period between Dylan's arrival in New York in January 1961 and his "retirement" from touring following his motorcycle accident in July 1966. This period encapsulates Dylan's rise to fame as a folk singer and songwriter, and the controversy surrounding his move to a rock style of music. The title is taken from Dylan's 1965 single "Like a Rolling Stone".
"Isis" is a ballad written by Bob Dylan in collaboration with Jacques Levy, in July 1975. The song is the second track in Dylan's 1976 album Desire. The song, which features allusions to ancient Egypt, including sharing its title with an Egyptian goddess, has been characterized by Dylan as a song "about marriage".
Ronee Sue Blakley is an American actress, singer-songwriter, composer, producer and director, she is perhaps best known for her work as an actress. Her most well-known role was the fictional country superstar Barbara Jean in Robert Altman's 1975 film Nashville, for which she won a National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for an Academy Award. She also had a role in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
Sara Dylan is the first wife of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. In 1959, Noznisky was wed to magazine photographer Hans Lownds, during which time she was known as Sara Lownds.
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for more than 50 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied pop music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture.
Howard Pyle Wyeth, also known as Howie Wyeth, was an American drummer and pianist. Wyeth is remembered for work with the saxophonist James Moody, the rockabilly singer Robert Gordon, the electric guitarist Link Wray, the rhythm and blues singer Don Covay, and the folk singer Christine Lavin. Best known as a drummer for Bob Dylan, he was a member of the Wyeth family of American artists.
"Simple Twist of Fate", a song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, was recorded on September 19, 1974, and was released in 1975 on his 15th studio album Blood on the Tracks.
This is a discography for American folk singer and songwriter Joan Baez.
"Mama, You Been on My Mind" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Written in 1964 during a trip to Europe, the song dealt with his recent breakup with his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo. Dylan first recorded the song in June of that year during a session for his album Another Side of Bob Dylan. However, the song was not included on the album, and Dylan's version remained unreleased until 1991. In total, in the 1990s and 2000s four versions were put out on Dylan's Bootleg Series of releases, including two live performances with Joan Baez from 1964 and 1975.
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese is a 2019 American pseudo-documentary film, composed of both fictional and non-fictional material, covering Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue concert tour. Directed by Martin Scorsese, it is the director's second film on Bob Dylan, following 2005's No Direction Home. The bulk of Rolling Thunder Revue is compiled of outtakes from Dylan's 1978 film Renaldo and Clara, which was filmed in conjunction with the tour.
Bob Dylan – The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings is a box set of 1975 live recordings by Bob Dylan, released on June 7, 2019. For this tour, Dylan assembled a loose collective of a backing band called Guam and played across North America for several dozen shows. The tie-in Netflix documentary film Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese was released the following week. A similar compilation was released in 2002 entitled Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue, as part of Dylan's ongoing Bootleg Series. That compilation was re-released on vinyl as a companion to the later release.