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‘They certainly booed, I’ll tell you that’

Bob Dylan performs at Rhode Island's Newport Folk Festival in July 1965: Getty
Bob Dylan performs at Rhode Island’s Newport Folk Festival in July 1965: Getty

The poet in black struck an angry chord and told his people how it feels. “I got a head full of ideas that are drivin’ me insane,” Bob Dylan barked over a skiffle rock clatter called “Maggie’s Farm”, a servant-class metaphor for breaking free of the oppressive, conformist shackles of 1960s America. The song ended in a flurry of bluesy discord, and a roar went up unlike any heard in popular music before. Half shock and excitement, half dissent and betrayal, a torrid clash of howls and boos. At the side of the stage, organiser Pete Seeger reportedly demanded an axe to cut the microphone cord.

Fifty-five years ago today, the traditionalists of 1965’s Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island, had watched Dylan walk onstage with an unannounced band, plug in a guitar and play his first ever

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