Every music fan remembers the day iconic folk artist Bob Dylan switched over to electric guitar. When Dylan struck that first chord for “Like a Rolling Stone,” it was chaos, and the whole concert hall practically tore the chairs out of the aisles. True fans, however, know this was hardly the first time the voice of a generation infused something with electricity to critical backlash.
Here are five other things Bob Dylan electrified, much to the chagrin of fans and the court of popular opinion.
Running late for his Woodstock performance, Bob Dylan wished there was some way he could have checked the time using the three things he always kept with him on tour: two potatoes and his trusty spool of copper wire. Fashioning the potatoes into a crude battery clock with the wire, he decided to show his friend Eric Clapton, who was horrified.
Believing man was not ready for such power, Clapton convinced Dylan to embark on a quest to hide the potato cloak where no man would ever find it, causing both artists to miss the festival completely. Clapton would later reveal that he was heavily under the influence of narcotics at the time, and that his stance on potato-based power has since “softened a bit.”
After a “Chicken Dance”-related accident nearly cost Dylan his left hand, he became committed to providing white people with an easy dance they could do at weddings. He applied electricity to an old vaudeville shuffle called “The Slide,” and “The Electric Slide” was born. Unfortunately, it quickly became tiresome, and Dylan opted to eschew any credit for the novelty hit.
When Joe Dante was stuck on how to approach “Gremlins 2: The New Batch,” he reportedly consulted Bob Dylan, who advised him that the next logical step was to “go electric, baby.”
Dylan always wondered what it would be like if sitting down on a chair could instantly yet painfully kill you, and at a concert in Philadelphia he installed the first electric chairs in the audience. As the sounds of protest rock and 40,000 painful electric volts filled the concertgoers, Dylan challenged the audience’s preconceived notions of politics, establishment, and the limits of human pain.
In true Dylan fashion, he didn’t listen to audiences, and let the Gremlin introduce him at his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
The Bass Guitar
This one is hard to forgive. Honestly, it churns my stomach just thinking about it. As soon as Dylan plugged in his guitar for the first time, he instructed his bass player to do the same and those 4-string thumb strummers have suffered the delusion that they play a real instrument ever since. Thanks a lot, Bob.