Happy Birthday Bob Dylan: Performing Live With Grateful Dead In 1987

Watch Bob and GD on a host of Dylan classics and more.

By Nate Todd May 24, 2022 9:50 am PDT

Today is Bob Dylan’s 81st birthday. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, the artist who would come to be known as Bob Dylan is one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time with a career that has spanned six decades and seen Dylan reinvent himself time and time again.

The late 1980s, however, was an era when Dylan’s work was not particularly well-received by critics. Here’s what one reviewer said about his 1986 album Knocked Out Loaded: “the record follows too many detours to be consistently compelling, and some of those detours wind down roads that are indisputably dead ends. By 1986, such uneven records weren’t entirely unexpected by Dylan, but that didn’t make them any less frustrating.”

But Dylan’s late ‘80s output wasn’t without its bright spots, a prime example being Knocked Out Loaded’s 11-minute epic “Brownsville Girl,” co-written with playwright Sam Shepard. Furthermore, it was collaboration that allowed Bob to shine through what was a critically dark period. Case in point, the latter half of the decade saw Dylan co-founding the successful supergroup the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison. In 1987, Bob also toured and collaborated with the Grateful Dead.

The Dylan & The Dead Tour, as it would come to be known from a live album of the same name released in 1989, saw two of the most influential American artists to come out of the 1960s each performing sets with GD acting as Dylan’s backing band for his set. The six-date tour kicked off on July 4 in the Boston area and wrapped up on July 26 in Anaheim, California.

Dylan and The Dead’s collaborative set from the Anaheim tour closer got going with the ‘60s counterculture anthem, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” But Dylan also included newer material in the set with “Dead Man, Dead Man” from his 1981 album Shot Of Love falling in the second slot. A return to older material with 1965’s “Maggie’s Farm” and 1975’s “Simple Twist Of Fate” followed ahead of 1971’s “Watching The River Flow.”

Additional classics included “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” “Chimes Of Freedom,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” “​​Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again,” “Ballad Of A Thin Man” and “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.” Dylan and The Dead closed the set strong with 1979’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” and “All Along The Watchtower,” the Anaheim versions of which both appear on the Dylan & The Dead live album. The Grateful Dead’s “Touch Of Grey” began the encore before the collaborators closed out with Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” the latter of which also appeared on the live record.

To celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday today, watch the legendary singer-songwriter perform with the Grateful Dead in 1987 below:


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Christopher Hazard (See 5 videos)
Bob Dylan (See 28 videos) and Grateful Dead (See 1,296 videos)

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