When Bob Dylan Went Electric: Newport, 1965

First there was the folk Bob Dylan. Then came the elec­tric Bob Dylan. And it all hap­pened one night at the New­port Folk Fes­ti­val. The date was July 25, 1965.

In the clip below, you can see how the tran­si­tion was received. In a word, not well. Appear­ing in front of a folk audi­ence that lament­ed the rise of rock, Dylan hit the stage with his elec­tric band and played three songs, includ­ing “Like a Rolling Stone.” Much of the crowd react­ed vio­lent­ly (you can hear it at the end of the clip), and Pete Seeger, the folk leg­end, raged back­stage: “Get that dis­tor­tion out of his voice … It’s ter­ri­ble. If I had an axe, I’d chop the micro­phone cable right now.” After his short set, Dylan tried to exit the stage. But, as you’ll see, he was coaxed back, with acoustic gui­tar in hand, to give the peo­ple what they want­ed — an excel­lent ver­sion of It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue. For more on this con­tro­ver­sy (which the music world even­tu­al­ly got over), check out Mar­tin Scors­ese’s doc­u­men­tary “No Direc­tion Home” as well as this Wikipedia entry.

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