The 1998 Tibetan Freedom Concert didn’t exactly go as planned. The two-day event at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium had an absolutely amazing bill that included Pearl Jam, Radiohead, R.E.M., the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, A Tribe Called Quest and many others. But steady rain fell on day one and the show was cut short after lightning struck a fan during Herbie Hancock’s set with a reunited Headhunters. (Bizarrely, Live played “Lightning Crashes” earlier in the day.)
Organizers had to scramble in order to squeeze as many acts as possible onto day two of the show, though Beck, Patti Smith, Tracy Chapman and a few others couldn’t make it. Still, the sun was shining as R.E.M. played their first show without drummer Bill Berry, the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed their first major gig with guitarist John Frusciante in six years and Radiohead sucked it up and played a rare “Creep.”
Michael Stipe was a huge fan of Radiohead by this point and the previous night he played “Lucky” with them at secret gig at the 9:30 Club. (They let in anybody with a ticket to the first day of the Tibetan Freedom Concert, though this wasn’t widely publicized and some of us are still bitter we didn’t know about it.) Anyway, Stipe came back out for “Lucky” at RFK Stadium the next day, and Thom returned the favor by singing Patti Smith’s parts in R.E.M.’s “E-Bow the Letter” that same day.