It was 51 years ago tonight (August 31st, 1969) that Bob Dylan made his first full-length concert appearance in three years at the Isle Of Wight Festival. Dylan's hour-long set with the Band closed the three-day festival, which also featured the Who, Richie Havens, the Moody Blues, Joe Cocker, and a solo set by the Band.
After very little rehearsal, Dylan and the Band took the stage in front of a crowd of an estimated 200,000 people — including John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. In front of a battery of microphones, a bearded Dylan, clad in a white suit and playing a large Gibson hollow-bodied acoustic guitar, gave an hour-long, spirited performance of 16 songs, spanning his then eight-year career.
The Band's late drummer Levon Helm recalled the show to author Clinton Heylin for his Dylan biography Behind The Shades, saying, “I would've like to have gotten carried away. Bob had an extra list of songs with eight or ten different titles with question marks by them. . . But it seemed like the festival was three days old by then; and so, if everybody else is ready to go home, let's all go.”