The Greatest Moments in Rock and Roll History Series #5 – BD Goes Electric @ 1965 Newport Folk Festival…

Just one editorial note The Greatest Moments in Rock and Roll History Series, even though numbered is not in any particular order. I would not try to rank such greatness…they all reach the top. 8]

This is what I consider a true moment and it’s not just for rock…if you listen to music this has affected and influenced you and everyone else unknowingly for 50 years (that’s right 5 decades). At the time Dylan was playing the Newport Folk Festival nearly every year in the early 60’s. My parents where there in 65′ when Bob went electric and they also serve as a first hand account.

My mum remembers vividly that people were peeing everywhere in the open…my pops has a much better remembrance of the actual performance. He told me that it was different from the mega concerts we have today. He said when Dylan came on the stage everyone thrust towards the stage and he emphasizes that this kind of thing was very new if not unheard of. The grassroots folk movement at the time was very ideological and many tended to think of Dylan and Baez as carriers of the message of these ideologies. It was also considered if you played an electric guitar at that time that you were “selling out” as part of the corporate establishment. Think about how every generation views selling out. Today kids think that just means that there are no more tickets or downloads left, not an ideology.

So anyway Dylan did not think of himself as being the bearer of the torch for the movement, he was doing anything that he thought felt right at the time for music and the integrity of the art. It just so happened that his lyrics were taken way out of context by the masses at the time. My mom and pops said that when Dylan came out and played “Maggie’s Farm” with an electric guitar…they did not notice large amounts of people booing that they talk about as legend. Pops said they’re was some booing but not a lot…maybe up front, and he continued by saying that it was only after the show that everyone began to re-visit the set and put it in the context of being controversial.

So with that said, it is known as the lynchpin in history when Dylan went electric that everyone looked at live performances in new evolutionary ways. If Dylan did it then….! Think about it, the first counter culture festival was in 1967 at Monterey where the electric culture blew up. Hendrix and The who scared the crap out of everybody with their performances and Dylan had broke the mold a few years earlier at Newport.

So here I have two videos…one the remembrances of two people involved in the concert production talking about how the Dylan gig went down…also there is in that short video the full performance of “Maggie’s Farm” when Dylan walked out on stage with the Butterfield Blues Band and thus the controversy. So this may be the biggest moment in rock history because it came before everything else except Elvis’ pelvis. I think Dylan may have topped Elvis in my opinion with this one, even though he may not have cared or realized it would even be controversial. The second video is the near complete performances of Dylan from 1963 to 1965. I post this video so you can see all of this into context yourself.

I know what people are thinking “roll eyes”, what about The Beatles Invasion and and Elvis. Keep this in mind, Elvis at that time was using an acoustic onstage. Second people who were there at the time, considered the Beatles a rebellious corporate “Boy Band” (crazy I know), that was the thinking it was such new territory. Bob was a man of the people and many of those people saw it as a betrayal to play electric. When he did that the common man…that is any person, not just anyone with musical talent could get up anywhere and play electric. Bob, such genius and foresight, came out and finished the set with Johnny Cash’s acoustic guitar (Because he only had an electric), closing with “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”.

It was the beginning of seeing the common man accepted as a vehicle for live electric, where before that it was considered part of either the corporate shill or the blight of the black delta blues musicians. The devils work to some. Racial prejudices were abound in society then, and I’m not talking about at Newport (These were social norms). My parents brought me up to have the same respect for all people…no matter what their race or sexuality. That was the norm in the folk grassroots movement. So I don’t want people to think Newport was a race thing, it was about Bob taking everyone on a trip to Mars when they had not signed up for that.







Thanks for reading and happy listening. Remember This post continues to evolve!

Braindamage Inc.

Come visit the Main “Day” Part of this site here:

CM ☕

Comments are closed.