newport-folk-festival

  • Listen
Play

Photo: American rock and folk musician Bob Dylan singing and playing guitar during a concert at the Olympia music hall in Paris on May 25, 1966. Credit: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

Fifty years ago, Bob Dylan donned a black leather jacket, plugged in an electric Stratocaster guitar and shocked the world during a July 25, 1965 performance at the Newport Folk Festival. The audience booed his set; perhaps a purist backlash to the electric guitar, or perhaps a protest against the poor sound quality. Decades later, people continue to make sense of the reverberations.

Later, after an eight-year tour hiatus, Dylan was back on the road in early 1974 and “waving around his electric guitar.” All Things Considered sent a KBIA reporter into the crowd at a St. Louis show to gauge fans’ reactions to Dylan’s new style. The reporter concluded that even though Dylan had embraced “rock ‘n’ roll rhythm,” he could still “please almost all of the people, almost all of the time.”

To this day, Dylan continues to be one of music’s great innovators.