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Happy Birthday


The following are excerpts from: [1]
Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan, A Life in Stolen Moments: Day By Day 1941-1995 NY: Schirmer Books, 1996.

October 23, 1975
Dylan and the Rolling Thunder troupe turn up at Gerdes Folk City for Mike Porco's birthday party. The party is filmed by Dylan's film crew, who are pretending to shoot a documentary on Gerdes. After a communal "Happy Birthday," Dylan takes to the stage with Joan Baez for the first time in 10 years to duet on a version of "One Too Many Mornings." [ no mention of the birthday footage being in Renaldo & Clara]

May 23, 1976, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
... Despite the storm clouds raging, the crowd appears to be very enthusiastic, even singing "Happy Birthday" for Dylan before the second encore.

October 25, 1981, Stabler Hall, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Before "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," Dylan and the female vocalists sing "Happy Birthday" for photographer and filmmaker Howard Alk, who has been with the crew throughout, filming the shows and certain off-stage scenes.

January 20, 1986, The Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts, Washington DC
[Dylan] looks distinctly uncomfortable during a communal finale of [Steve] Wonder's own tribute to Martin Luther King, "Happy Birthday".

February 12, 1986, Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia
In the acoustic set, between "It Ain't Me, Babe" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," Dylan leads the audience through "Happy Birthday" for backup singer, Queen Esther Marrow.

June 30, 1986, Pine Knob Music Theater, Clarkston, MI
After "Rainy Day Women," Dylan does a ragged version of "All My Tomorrow Belong To You" especially for his "dresser," Suzy Pullen during the first show; Dylan then leads the crowd through "Happy Birthday".

July 21, 1986, Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
Before the encore, a guitar-shaped birthday cake is carted onstage for Howie Epstein, while everyone sings "Happy Birthday," including Al Kooper, sitting in on piano during the latter part of the show.

May 13-14, 16-17, 19-21, 1992, Pantages Theatre, Hollywood, CA
On the 21st, The audience sings a slightly premature "Happy Birthday" before the first encore, "Lenny Bruce."

Regarding the 30 June 1998 performance:
Carsten Wohlfeld posted to rec.music.dylan:

After "Mama" Bob had a short discussion with Tony who told Larry to come over. A few smiles later Bob stepped up to the microphone and started "Happy Birthday," Tony and Larry following close behind. I don't think that he actually got either the chords or the melody right, but it's the thought that counts, right? It was sung for a mysterious Suzie, that's all I know. After he had finished the song, Bob laughed and said: "We did play it in a different key at the end, didn't we?" and then he played it again!

The second version was almost a solo version cause Larry and Tony were laughing so hard that they almost forgot to play. They totally killed the melody again and it actually sounded even worse than the first try. Still a charming surprise, not only for Suzie, but all of us.

Chahab Nastar posted to rec.music.dylan:

I attended the great Paris show (June 30, 1998), where Bob sang "happy birthday" twice in a row ("happy birthday dear susie" he sang, I guess, and it seemed to me that "susie" was backstage). I got the impression that Tony asked him to do the song right after "Mama you been on my mind"

The band played with him the first version, after which Bob said: "We're gonna sing this again in a different key" and he started doing it in a lower key (much too low actually!). He had trouble singing it, and this time the band did not follow (they were all laughing). Bob messed up the chords!!! and he hardly sang it at all. At the end he said: "It was really necessary that we did this. If you guys got any cameras, you can hold them up!". Bob was in top form in Paris, heavily enjoying the show, as we all did.

It is suspected that "Suzy" refers to Dylan's dresser, to whom he also sang "Happy Birthday" on this date in 1986.

[1] posted and/or contributed by Ben Taylor, Peter Dixon, Frinjdwelr, Shiphour, and Gil Walker