Producer Beau Hill recalls how the collaboration between Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton nearly failed

Producer Beau Hill recalled the nearly disastrous Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton collaboration during a recent conversation with Chuck Shute. Hill noted that Dylan, Clapton, and Ronnie Wood all contributed to the soundtrack of the 1987 film he directed, “Hearts of Fire.” But Dylan was unable to finish the song in time for the main camera. The movie’s director, Richard Marquand, then requested Hill to go down there and make things right. The story’s remainder was revealed by the producer, who explained: “I visited the Townhouse in London, where one of the second engineers was in charge of the session as I entered into the control room. So basically all he was doing was running loops of tape that he kept putting on, and when they did whatever they were doing, they would jam or fart about. They had not extracted a single song from the batch, so there were perhaps 15 reels of two-inch tape stacked up on the floor. He continued by describing the musicians’ characteristics when he saw them: I then go to the control room window and look out and see Henry Spinetti, Bob Dylan, Ron Wood, and Eric Clapton’s drummer. Wow, what a strange life I lead, I thought as I sat there.

It was very hectic, so I went and made an introduction. I said, “Listen, Richard wanted me to come down and just see if I could lend a hand,” attempting to be as diplomatic as I could. Henry and Eric Spinetti were completely sober. Ron Wood and Dylan weren’t sober. The interviewer then intervened and inquired as to whether they were only intoxicated or whether drugs were being used. Hill answered: “My mouth is closed. I’m unable to answer. Let’s just say that only half of the band was concentrated while the other half had a different emphasis. I thus spent some time looking over the cassettes to see if there was anything I could save. I discovered a few things: “Okay, if we can fix this here, clean this up here, and do that blow up.” Eric was saying, “Thank you, we needed some help,” while gazing at me with these enormous eyes. Clapton supported Dylan on guitar during the recording of “Heart of Fire,” with Wood on bass and Spinetti on drums. The CD originally called for Dylan to contribute four new songs, but in the end, he only provided two of his own compositions and one cover song. On the soundtrack, there were also numerous songs by Fiona Flanagan and Rupert Everett.

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