The rolling stone will finally hit the far east, as Bob Dylan has been approved to play his first ever concert in China. The country’s Ministry of Culture has granted Dylan permission to play in Beijing this year, sometime between March 30 and April 12. Dylan also applied to play in Shanghai, although that application has not yet been approved. The rock legend will stick to a strict set list approved by Chinese officials. No word yet on what songs will make the cut.
In honor of this 69 year old icon still breaking rock and roll borders, we give you the top five things you should know about Bob Dylan’s travels around the world.
1. In 1978, Dylan embarked on a year-long world tour, performing 114 shows in Japan, the Far East, Europe and the United States. Two million people saw Dylan play during this tour, which grossed more than $20 million. Dylan told the Los Angeles Times that he used the grosses to cover some debts, saying “I had a couple of bad years. I put a lot of money into the movie, built a big house … and it costs a lot to get divorced in California.”
2. Bob Dylan at Budokan was recorded in Tokyo during two shows on February 28 and March 1, 1978. The album featured alternative renditions of hits including “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” The album was widely slammed by critics, who likened it to “Vegas lounge music.”
3. In 1997, Dylan was hospitalized with a life-threatening heart infection, pericarditis, brought on by histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that primarily affects the lungs. His scheduled European tour was cancelled, but Dylan made a speedy recovery and left the hospital saying, “I really thought I’d be seeing Elvis soon.”
4. In the fall of 1997, Dylan performed before Pope John Paul II at the World Eucharistic Conference in Bologna, Italy. The Pope returned the favor by giving an audience of 200,000 a homily based on Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
5. The National Gallery of Denmark is exhibiting 40 of Dylan’s large-scale acrylic paintings from September 2010 until April 2011. The collection is entitled “The Brazil Series.”
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