Flashback: Bob Dylan Sings 'Heaven's Door' With Van Morrison - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Bob Dylan Sings ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ With Van Morrison

Watch the two legends trade lines on the classic back in 1998

Bob Dylan’s career was in a real upswing when he launched a European tour with special guest Van Morrison in the summer of 1998.

Earlier that year his comeback album Time Out of Mind won a Grammy for Album of the Year, and even a stage crash by a mysterious man named Soy Bomb couldn’t spoil the fun. The energy seemed to transfer to his stage show, because night after night he was singing with a passion and energy not seen in many years, and to this day Dylan nuts cherish bootlegs from this era.

Shortly before heading to Europe, Dylan and Van Morrison played a short run of dates on the West Coast with Joni Mitchell, marking one of her final tours. It was an incredible triple bill, and one night they all sang “I Shall Be Released” together. Joni isn’t much of a road warrior, so she didn’t make the trek over the Europe. Dylan and Morrison shared equal billing as they played arena gigs all across the U.K. and mainland Europe, though they rarely shared the stage.

One exception was June 24, 1998 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England. Near the end of Dylan’s main set, Van Morrison took the stage for a duet on “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” This was obviously before the era of the cellphone camera, but someone relatively near the front managed to sneak in a video camera and managed to do a pretty good job capturing the moment. And even if it isn’t pristine video, the sound quality is pretty amazing.

Sad as it is to say, professional camera crews have filmed precious few Dylan concerts since he began the Never Ending Tour back in 1988. When the inevitable comes and the tour does actually end, almost all of the video documents will be audience-shot things like this. Audio recordings are a different matter, but for whatever reason they have yet to officially release a single Never Ending Tour show other than 1995’s disappointing MTV Unplugged. There have been rumors for years that 1993’s stellar Supper Club shows will be the subject of a future Bootleg Series. That’s one of the few shows also shot by pro cameras, so let’s all hope they get around to that someday. In the meantime, there’s a vast world of bootlegs out there for Dylan fans to explore. 

In This Article: Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Video


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