The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood Explains how he and Keith Richards wound up playing with Dylan at Live Aid ’85
(Thanks to David Perkin / New York Rocks for this one)
“In New York, towards the middle of 1985, Bob Dylan rang to ask if I wanted to do a charity gig with him. “Sure,” I said. Not long after that he showed up at my house on West 78th Street to talk about what songs we might do.
I knew all of his songs but had never played any on stage. Bob was showing me chords when I suggested getting Keith involved. Dylan agreed, so I rang Keith and said: “Dylan’s invited me to play some charity gig and I’m inviting you along too.”
But Keith was in one of his moods, and when he is it helps if you’re living in a different country.
I said to Bob: “I’m not so sure that Keith can make it, so if you’re happy to do it with just me…”
Two hours later the doorbell rang, and there was Keith saying: “So what do you want?”
I said: “Bob is downstairs, be nice to him.” He followed me in and threw open his arms: “Bob…So great to see you!”
The three of us started rehearsing and got through pretty much the whole Dylan catalogue. On the day of the gig, a limo came to pick up Keith and me. Before we got in, a truck pulled up with Dylan on board – the driver was his daughter.
“You coming?” Bob asked. “We’re on in Philadelphia, man.”
“Philadelphia?” That was 90 miles away, but Bob just said: “Follow us.”
Keith and I weren’t too sure what this was all about, but we got into the limo and told the driver: “Follow that truck.”
Keith looked at me and said: “This better be fucking good.”
It was better than good, it was Live Aid.
There were 72,000 people at Wembley Stadium in London, and 92,000 when we played at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, plus 1.5billion people watching on TV in a hundred countries, all to help raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia.
The show closed with Dylan, backed by Keith and me.
On the stairs up to the stage, Bob said: “Let’s do Blowin’ In The Wind.” I said: “What?” But by then it was too late to argue. I couldn’t believe it: that was the only song of his we hadn’t rehearsed.
Right in the middle of it, one of Bob’s guitar strings broke. I thought fast and handed my guitar to him, leaving me there in front of all those people, playing air guitar.
I was eventually handed another guitar, and when we finished our last song we turned around to find the entire cast on stage behind us.” – Ron Wood
Ron, Keith and Bob backstage at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, July 13, 1985, photo Ken Regan