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"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" is a song by Bob Dylan, written for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Released as a single two months after the film's release, it became a worldwide hit, reaching the Top 10 in several countries. The song became one of Dylan's most popular and most covered post-1960s compositions, spawning covers from Guns N' Roses, Eric Clapton, Randy Crawford and more. Described by Dylan biographer, Clinton Heylin, as "an exercise in splendid simplicity",[1] the song features two verses, each of which represent the film's title characters and American frontier legends Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
Bob Dylan - Knockin on Heavens Door.jpg
Single by Bob Dylan
from the album Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
B-side"Turkey Chase"
ReleasedJuly 13, 1973
RecordedFebruary 1973
GenreFolk rock, gospel
Length2:32
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)Gordon Carroll
Bob Dylan singles chronology
"George Jackson"
(1971)
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
(1973)
"A Fool Such as I"
(1973)

Contents

Other Bob Dylan versionsEdit

ChartsEdit

Eric Clapton and Arthur Louis versionsEdit

In January 1975 Eric Clapton played on Arthur Louis's recording of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" which was arranged in a cross-over reggae style. After the recording sessions with Louis, Clapton recorded his own version of the song which was released as a single in August 1975 two weeks after Louis's version.[13] Clapton's version made it to No. 38 on the UK charts,[14] but the single was less successful in the U.S where it failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (although it reached on No. 109 on Cash Box's Looking Ahead chart[15]). Clapton's 1996 boxed set Crossroads 2: Live in the Seventies features a performance of the song recorded in London in April 1977. There were also performances of the song included on the Journeyman (1990) and the One More Car, One More Rider (2003) world tours. Several Clapton compilation albums also feature the song.[16]

Guns N' Roses versionsEdit

"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
Song by Guns N' Roses
from the album Days of Thunder (soundtrack)
ReleasedJune 26, 1990
GenreHard rock
Length5:36
LabelGeffen
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
 
1992 UK picture sleeve
Single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Use Your Illusion II
ReleasedMay 18, 1992
GenreHard rock
Length5:30
LabelGeffen
Songwriter(s)Bob Dylan
Producer(s)
Guns N' Roses singles chronology
"Live and Let Die"
(1991)
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
(1992)
"November Rain"
(1992)

In 1987, Guns N' Roses started performing the song. A live version of the song was released on the maxi-single of "Welcome to the Jungle" the same year. They recorded and released a studio version in 1990 for the soundtrack of the film Days of Thunder that reached No. 18 on the US Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart and No. 3 on Poland's LP3 chart. This version was slightly modified for the 1991 album Use Your Illusion II, discarding the responses in the second verse. Released as the second single from the album, it reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart and the New Zealand Singles Chart. Elsewhere, the single topped the charts of Belgium and the Netherlands; it was the best-selling song of 1992 in the latter country. In Ireland, where the song also reached No. 1, it became Guns N' Roses' third (and to date last) number-one single as well as their ninth consecutive top-five hit.

Their performance of the song at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 was used as the B-side for the single release and was also included on their Live Era: '87–'93 album, released in 1999.[17] The music video for this version of the song was directed by Andy Morahan.[18]

ChartsEdit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1990) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[19] 56
Poland (LP3)[20] 3
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[21] 18
Chart (1992) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[22] 12
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[23] 3
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[24] 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[25] 7
France (SNEP)[26] 7
Germany (Official German Charts)[27] 5
Ireland (IRMA)[28] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[29] 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[30] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[31] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[32] 6
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[33] 10
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[34] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[35] 2

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1992) Position
Australia (ARIA)[36] 35
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[37] 9
Belgium (Ultratop)[38] 5
Germany (Official German Charts)[39] 9
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[40] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[41] 20
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[42] 8
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[43] 34

Decade-end chartsEdit

Chart (1990–1999) Position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[44] 26

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[45] Gold 35,000^
Germany (BVMI)[46] Gold 250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[47] Platinum 50,000 
Netherlands (NVPI)[48] Platinum 75,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[49] Silver 200,000 

^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Dunblane tributeEdit

"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
 
Single by Dunblane
A-side"Throw These Guns Away"
ReleasedDecember 9, 1996 (1996-12-09)
Format
Recorded1996
StudioAbbey Road Studios, London
GenreBlues rock
Length4:09
LabelBMG, RCA
Songwriter(s)
  • Bob Dylan
  • Ted Christopher
Producer(s)Peter Cobbin

In 1996 and with the consent of Dylan, Scottish musician Ted Christopher wrote a new verse for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" in memory of the schoolchildren and teacher killed in the Dunblane school massacre. This has been, according to some sources, one of the few times Dylan has officially authorized anybody to add or change the lyrics to one of his songs.[50][51] This version of the song, including children from the village singing the chorus with guitarist and producer of Dylan's album Infidels (1983), Mark Knopfler, was released on December 9 in the United Kingdom and reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart and Scottish Singles Chart,[52][53] as well as number six in Ireland.[54] The proceeds went to charities for children.[55] The song was featured on the compilation album Hits 97, where all royalties from the song were given to three separate charities.[56]

ChartsEdit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1996) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[54] 6
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[53] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[52] 1

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1996) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[57] 31

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Platinum 600,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Sampled versionEdit

Gabrielle's single "Rise" (2000) sampled from this song.

Soundtrack inclusionsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Heylin, Clinton (2009). Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973. Chicago Review Press. p. 434.
  2. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada", Collectionscanada.gc.ca
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1973-12-01. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  5. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  6. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 77.
  8. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 11/10/73". tropicalglen.com.
  9. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  10. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (July 8, 2017). "Image : RPM Weekly".
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  12. ^ "מצביעים מחדש למצעד עשור ה-70". Galgalatz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  13. ^ Schumacher, Michael. Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. Hyperion Press. p. 373.
  14. ^ "ERIC CLAPTON | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  15. ^ Cash box Singles – Looking Ahead. 20 September 1975.
  16. ^ "Eric Clapton discography". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  17. ^ "Gun N' Roses discography". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  18. ^ Garcia, Alex S. "mvdbase.com - Guns 'n' Roses - "Knockin' on Heaven's door [live]"". Music Video DataBase. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1321." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  20. ^ "Notowanie nr458" (in Polish). LP3. November 30, 1990. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  21. ^ "Guns N Roses Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  22. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  23. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  24. ^ "Ultratop.be – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  25. ^ Pennanen, Timo. Sisältää hitin: levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972. Otava Publishing Company Ltd, 2003. ISBN 951-1-21053-X
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  28. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  29. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 27, 1992" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  31. ^ "Charts.nz – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  32. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door". VG-lista. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door". Singles Top 100. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  34. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  35. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 50 Singles 1992". ARIA. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  37. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 1992" (in German). Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  38. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1992" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  39. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
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  41. ^ "End of Year Charts 1992". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  42. ^ "Swiss Year-End Chart 1992" (in German). Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  43. ^ "Year End Charts: Top Singles". Music Week. 16 January 1993. p. 8.
  44. ^ "Bestenlisten – Singles 1990er". Hung Medien Austrian Charts Portal (in German). Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  45. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  46. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Guns N' Roses; 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  47. ^ "Italian single certifications – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved November 2, 2018. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  48. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Guns 'n' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved December 21, 2018. Enter Knockin' On Heaven's Door in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  49. ^ "British single certifications – Guns N' Roses – Knockin' On Heaven's Door". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 2, 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Knockin' On Heaven's Door in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  50. ^ "Dunblane Knockin' on Heaven's Door". bannockburnband.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  51. ^ "Dunblane against Guns". 1997-01-01. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  52. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  53. ^ a b "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  54. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  55. ^ "Knockin' On Heaven's Door CD". BBC. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  56. ^ "Hits 97". Amazon.co.uk. 11 November 1996. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  57. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1996". Music Week. January 18, 1997. p. 25.
  58. ^ "British single certifications – Various Artists – Knockin' on Heaven's Door". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 26, 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Knockin' on Heaven's Door in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
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