The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rock row still rankles Bob Dylan

London, Sept. 22: Bob Dylan is still upset, it seems, by the scorn heaped on him in the 1960s by folk music purists in Britain for his “treachery” in abandoning his traditional sound for electric rock.

Booed in halls and treated by the media as a freak, he recalled: “It was just kinda absurd, the trip they were on. People thought we knew the answers (to everything). I don’t think so.”

The notoriously reclusive singer, now 64, spoke in a rare television interview to be broadcast by BBC2’s Arena next week in a documentary edited by Martin Scorsese.

Obviously anxious finally to explain why he became so exasperated with the fury of fans ' and so obnoxious when confronted by journalists ' Dylan encouraged the director to use previously unseen footage from his personal archives, showing British fans ridiculing him.

After a 1966 concert at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall one fan said: “Bob Dylan was a bastard in the second half.”

Rick Danko, leader of The Band, who were backing Dylan that night, told Scorsese that after a concert in Forest Hills, New York, where there was trouble about the singer abandoning folk music for electric guitar, everything escalated into a “whirlwind” situation in Britain.

In Manchester, a decision was taken by Dylan at the interval that they return to the stage with full-scale “kick-arse” rock.

As they started the six-minute Like A Rolling Stone, a fan, Keith Butler, stood up to shout: “Judas!” Dylan replied: “You’re a liar”. He then instructed the musicians: “Play it loud.”

Old footage shows the singer, tired of being confronted by hostile traditional music followers and hecklers, sitting in his London dressing room, looking fed up.

He says, wearily: “Man, I’m gonna get me a new Bob Dylan next week. Get me a new Bob Dylan and use him. Use the new Bob Dylan. See how long he lasts.” Looking back, Dylan remembers how he hated the booing. “It made me go out and get drunk.”

Despite the theory that he changed his name after reading Dylan Thomas, the ever-enigmatic Robert Zimmerman says: “Why I changed my name, I really can’t tell you.”

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