The July 25, 1965, audience, the story goes, was driven to rage because their acoustic guitar troubadour had betrayed them by going electric and plugging in. The booing was so loud that, after the first three electric songs, Dylan dismissed the band and finished the set with his acoustic guitar.
There's a host of other associated narratives about goings-on in the wings: Pete Seeger and other Newport board directors were so repulsed and enraged they struggled to kill the electric power; Pete was frenetically looking for an axe to chop the major power line; people were yelling, screaming, crying, beating breasts, rending garments. Griel Marcus tells some of those stories really well at the beginning of his 1998 Dylan book, Invisible Republic.
Great stories. But not one of them is true.
I was one of the directors of the Newport Folk Festival and I was in the wings during Dylan's Saturday night performance. Every time I heard those stories retold, I'd say, to whoever was talking,"That's not how I remember it. Nobody made a move for the power. Nobody took a swing at the sound man. It wasn't Dylan the audience was booing."
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