Lennon, Harrison and Starr watch Bob Dylan perform at the Isle of Wight Festival

11.00pm, Sunday 31 August 1969 (44 years ago)

John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr watched Bob Dylan and The Band perform at the Isle of Wight Festival on this evening.

The three were accompanied by their respective wives, Yoko Ono, Pattie Harrison and Maureen Starkey. Paul McCartney was not present, as his wife Linda had given birth to their daughter Mary on 28 August.

Harrison and Mal Evans had met Dylan in Portsmouth on 26 August, to greet the American on his arrival to the UK. Dylan took the ferry to the Isle of Wight later that day, and began rehearsals at Forelands Farm in Bembridge.

The Harrisons arrived on the island two days later, and the Lennons and Starkeys travelled there on 30 August. The festival took place on 30 and 31 August at Wootton; Dylan’s appearance was particularly notable as it was his first public performance in three years.

Around 150,000 people saw Dylan’s performance. As well as three of The Beatles, the audience included Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Syd Barrett, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Jane Fonda.

George and Pattie Harrison at the second Isle of Wight Festival, 31 August 1969

George and Pattie Harrison at the second Isle of Wight Festival, 31 August 1969

Dylan took to the stage at around 11pm and played for just under an hour.

We went to the Dylan show, and if there had been a jam, we would have got up. It was killed before it happened. It was so late by the time he got on. We would have jammed if it had been earlier. The crowd was dying on their feet by the time he got on.
John Lennon

Following the concert, the three Beatles returned to Dylan’s rented farmhouse where they gave him a pre-release copy of Abbey Road. They also invited him to return to the mainland the following day in Apple’s rented helicopter.

I went with him and The Beatles to the farmhouse where he was clearly in a merry mood because he had felt it had gone so well… The Beatles had brought a test pressing of Abbey Road and we listened to it and had quite a party.
Tom Paxton

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