At first glance, it would have seemed unlikely in the mid ’60s that the Beatles and Bob Dylan would have had anything in common. The Beatles were initially teen idols who were adored by screaming girls (much like Justin Beiber today). And Dylan sparked ’60s pop culture with his serious poetic lyrics that made all generations sit up and take notice.
They were introduced in 1964 by journalist Al Aronowitz. John Lennon got along well with Dylan. They were filmed on a jaunt together for Dylan’s film, “Eat the Document,” which featured Dylan, on the verge of throwing up, in the back of a limo with John. And Dylan’s influence with Lennon extended to his songwriting. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” was Lennon doing Dylan.
Dylan’s influence on the Beatles wasn’t limited to music. He also introduced them to marijuana. Paul McCartney recalled it In his book “Many Years From Now.” “We all had a puff and for about five minutes, we went, ‘This isn’t doing anything, so we kept having more. ‘Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! This isn’t doing anything. Are you feeling …….. ggggzzzz! and we started giggling uncontrollably.”
The drug influence made its way to the Beatles music. McCartney says in “Many Years From Now” that the “Revolver” song “Got to Get You Into My Life” was all about pot.
The Beatles, however, became big fans of Dylan. The four of them attended his Royal Albert Hall show in 1965. Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr attended his Isle of Wight show in 1969.
The Beatle who probably spent the most time with Dylan, though, was neither Lennon or Paul McCartney. It was George Harrison, who wrote “I’d Have You Anytime” with him. He also recorded Dylan’s “If Not For You.” George and Patti Boyd visited him at his home in Woodstock in 1970.
Most of all, though, Dylan was the highlight of the Concert for Bangladesh organized by Harrison. Joey Molland, who rehearsed with Dylan before the show, says his appearance was a surprise to the musicians.
“Nobody even knew Dylan was coming. He showed up at the dress rehearsal at the Garden on the Saturday afternoon. You know, it was all put together, his part of the show was all put together that afternoon,” he told us in a phone interview. “Very impromptu. It was a lot of fun. It was great, very exciting.” (Read Molland’s full interview.)
In the ’80s, Harrison and Dylan teamed up again in the Traveling Wilburys. Also there was also that famous night in 1987 when Dylan, Harrison, John Fogerty and assorted others surprised patrons at the Palomino Club in Los Angeles by making a mass surprise guest appearance.
You could say that , in his way, Dylan helped the Beatles move from teen idols to serious musicians. They couldn’t have a better assistant.
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