E is for Electric controversy
Perhaps the greatest controversy of his career occurred at Newport Folk Festival on Sunday 25 July 1965. During his headlining performance Dylan played with an electric blues band in concert for the first time. This apparent rejection of his roots made him unpopular with much of the folk community, alienating some fans - the later Judas jibe at Manchester Free Trade Hall became notorious.
He had recently released the album Bringing It All Back Home, which was broadly half electric and half acoustic in approach. The band that accompanied Dylan’s vocals and electric guitar that night, included Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Sam Lay on drums, Jerome Arnold on bass, Al Kooper on organ and Barry Goldberg on piano - most members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
Footage of the performance reveals loud booing plus sporadic cheering just a few bars into Maggie's Farm, which continues throughout the second, Like A Rolling Stone and Phantom Engineer, which evolves into It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry.
It was to be thirty seven years before Dylan returned to the Newport Festival.
The most common explanation is that the boos were from outraged folk fans, who disliked Dylan using an electric guitar. An alternative account claims that audience members were upset by poor sound quality and the short set. The debate goes on with those who were there disagreeing. Either way, it transformed both folk music and rock 'n' roll.