Bob Dylan, 82, dished groundbreaking responses to irked crowds decades before latest heckler slap-down

Bob Dylan, 82, dished groundbreaking responses to irked crowds decades before latest heckler slap-down

WATCH HERE: Bob Dylan awarded lifetime achievement award at the 1991 Grammys

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 16/03/2024

- 06:00

The legendary music icon recently had to deal with irked audience members

Bob Dylan hit headlines recently after he was praised for the brilliant response he gave to a less-than-impressed gig-goer in Florida.

After playing a handful of tracks at the gig, one audience member interrupted proceedings to ask Dylan: "Play something we know!"

The 82-year-old stared at the heckler and instead of giving her a verbal response, launched into a unique take on the 1971 classic, When I Paint My Masterpiece.

Dylan garnered praise across social media for the response, with some calling it "genius", "brilliant" and the "ultimate rebuttal".

However, this isn't the first time Dylan has faced opposition from concertgoers.

Almost six decades ago, Dylan found himself met with a chorus of boos and fury when he took to the stage as the headline act at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan performs in 1965


Armed with a Stratocaster, a new breed of electric guitars, Dylan was about to bring in a new dawn for folk-rock music.

This was the very first time Dylan had decided to perform using an electric guitar and it's safe to say the audience was completely in the dark.

He took to the stage alongside guitarist Mike Bloomfield, organist Al Kooper and various members of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

The ensemble opened their hotly-anticipated set with a never-before-heard rendition of his single, Maggie's Farm - complete with plenty of electrical riffs from Dylan's bandmates.

But much like the perturbed Floridian in 2024, the 1965 crowd wasn't sure what to make of the performance, with varying accounts stating the boos were just as raucous as the applause.

Record producer and writer Joe Boyd spoke about this in his memoir White Bicycles: Making Music where he recalled: "By today's standards, the volume wasn't particularly high, but in 1965 it was probably the loudest thing anyone in the audience had ever heard.

"A buzz of shock and amazement ran through the crowd… There were shouts of delight and triumph and also of derision and outrage."

Folk music fans felt this was a disgraceful take on the genre they held so dear, with purists decrying the use of electric over acoustic.

Bob Dylan continues to entertain crowds to this day

Bob Dylan continues to entertain crowds to this day


But instead of pandering, Dylan brilliantly burst into a genre-defying rendition of his classic, Like A Rolling Stone.

According to Music Radar, the crowd failed to warm to this newfound sound and after just 17 minutes, Dylan and his band left the stage.

Speaking at a San Francisco press conference later that year, Dylan said: "I didn’t know what was going to happen, but they certainly booed, I’ll tell you that.

"You could hear it all over the place."

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