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Bob Dylan and Joan Baez at 1982 Peace Sunday concert

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez at 1982 Peace Sunday concert

June 6, 1982: Bob Dylan, left, and Joan Baez tune up before singing “Blowin’ in the Wind” during surprise segment at the “Peace Sunday” benefit concert at the Rose Bowl.

Some 85,000 people attended the all-day “Peace Sunday” concert to promote nuclear disarmament.

Robert Kilburn reported in the June 8, 1982, Los Angeles Times:

Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and more than a dozen other rock headliners didn’t just make a statement on behalf of global nuclear disarmament Sunday at the Rose Bowl. They also made a statement during the 10-hour “Peace Sunday” benefit concert on behalf of rock ’n’ roll itself.

With rock again under attack in some quarters as a negative social force, the peacefulness of the crowd and the idealism of the performers Sunday demonstrated the positiveness of the music. …

The rock stars certainly sold a lot of tickets Sunday. An estimated 85,000 people filled the Rose Bowl to see, in addition to those already cited, such artists as Dan Fogelberg, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Gary U.S. Bonds, Gil Scott-Heron, Donovan and Tierra.

But the day’s most emotional – and symbolic – moment came just before dusk when Joan Baez, herself a surprise guest on the show, paused midway during her 20-minute set to introduce another surprise attraction: Bob Dylan.

As Dylan, wearing a faded double-breasted jacket that looked like it had been on the concert trail with him two decades ago, ambled nervously toward Baez, the audience stood in ovation.

It was a chilling moment on several levels.

Not only did the pairing reunite on stage two figures most associated with the social consciousness of pop in the ’60s, but it also reenacted the way Baez had first introduced Dylan, then a young unknown songwriter, to concert audiences. He was an unbilled  guest on one of Baez’s early ’60s tours.

When Dylan and Baez, both strumming acoustic guitars, opened with one of Dylan’s earliest anti-war statements, “With God on Our Side,” the lyrics fit the concert’s theme perfectly. But there wasn’t the expected applause for key lines, suggesting many in the largely under-30 crowd simply didn’t know the song which was a track on Dylan’s 1964 “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” album, a work that helped reshape the direction of rock by showing how commentary could be combined with the energy alone that had characterized ’50s rock.

The audience seemed even more confused when Dylan and Baez then sang a little-known non-Dylan song before moving to familiar territory with “Blowin’ in the Wind,” his classic peace anthem:

How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?

Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?

In his usual, shy manner, Dylan left the stage without a word to the audience. Rather than go to the media reception room or even to the private performers’ area, he went directly to a waiting van and was driven away from the Rose Bowl. …

There is a 12-minute video on YouTube of Baez and Dylan from the Peace Sunday event.

1 Comment

  1. May 15, 2017, 6:23 pm

    Proud to say I was there for this great concert! So many artists I looked up to.Seems like 2017 should be a good year for renewed musical activism.

    By: John Lucken

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