Bob Dylan justifies ‘going electric’

The singer defends one of his most controversial moves

Bob Dylan has justified his decision to go electric in the mid-sixties in a rare interview.

The legendary singer infamously appeared at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and was hailed with vicious derision.

In a two part documentary, directed by Martin Scorsese, Dylan explains his decision, saying: “I thought I’d get more power with a small group backing me. It was electric but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s modernised just because it’s electric. Country music was electric too.”


He adds: “A lot of my songs were becoming hits for other people. The Byrds had a big hit, some group called The Turtles had some hit. I didn’t really like that sound. Folk rock, what ever that was. I felt it didn’t have anything to do with me.”

His UK tour of 1966 was received with the same scorn, with one fan screaming ‘Judas’ at the electric-guitar playing Dylan.

“The band who were with me on that tour were putting their heads in the lion’s mouth. The stages were created for people who recited Shakespeare,” Dylan says. “They weren’t made for the music we were playing. The sound was pretty archaic really. The sound quality hadn’t been perfected.”

‘No Direction Home:Bob Dylan’ directed by Martin Scorsese will be shown in two parts at 9pm tonight (September 26) and tomorrow (September 27) on BBC2.

A DVD of the film will be available in shops from October 3.