Rare footage of Bob Dylan fans voicing their disgust at him going electric
We are taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting this incredible Bob Dylan footage of fans voicing their disgust at Bob Dylan ‘selling-out to the man’. He did so by changing up his sound and appointing a backing band which left his trademark one-man acoustic shows firmly a thing of the past.
All great artists evolve as time passes with the freewheelin’ Bob Dylan being no exception. Nevertheless, folk fans across the world were dismayed following his set at Newport Folk Festival in 1965 where he first debuted his new sound and officially “went electric”. His set was met by a chorus of boos and shouts from the thousands in attendance who couldn’t quite believe what they were witnessing.
The idea to go electric at Newport reportedly happened organically just the day before the performance took place. The musicians met up for a series of workshops as was customary. When noted field music archivist and music historian Alan Lomax introduced The Paul Butterfield Blues Band in a less than favourable manner, Dylan took notice and offence. He had had enough.
Dylan decided on the spot to flip everything upside-down by plugging in for his performance. The musician assembled a small band and borrowed a local mansion to rehearse in for a few hours on that Saturday night and he never looked back.
When Dylan would bring his world tour to Newcastle’s City Hall on April 21st, 1966, it’s safe to say that fans were angered with his decision to deviate from the sound that had won them over in the first place. The tour saw the maestro perform acoustically during the first half of the show then bring out a band for the second half, which upset crowds across the nation. One fan going as far as shouting that iconic line of ‘Judas’ at him in Manchester.
A TV crew were on hand to speak with fans to gather their thoughts following the Newcastle show and their overreaction to the change in sound is nothing short of comical. One fan said: “He’s just changed altogether, he’s changed from what he was, he’s not the same as what he was at first. We didn’t even recognise him.”
Another didn’t hold back in their assessment, remarking: “About a year ago, I saw him in Sheffield at the City Hall, I thought he was magnificent and he couldn’t improve if he tried. Then the next thing that happened is he went really commercial with this backing group and I didn’t like that very much. I don’t know what he’s trying to do, I think he’s conceding to some kind of popular taste. I think it’s a bad thing, he’s prostituting himself.”
Then another former Dylan fan says in a Yorkshire accent so thick that they had to put subtitles on: “It makes you sick listening to this rubbish now.” His friend didn’t mince his words either, channelling his inner Sean Bean and equipping: “Bob Dylan was a bastard in the second half”.
Another angered audience member commented in true hipster fashion: “I don’t think the spirit of the Dylan songs has been portrayed with this incredibly corny group behind him, I like his earlier records on his The Freewheelin’ LP’s etcetera but this I can’t stick.”