Sunday, May 16, 2021

May 16 1966 -- Bob Dylan in Gaumont Theater, Sheffield and More


Portrait based on photo
by Jerry Schatzberg
Sheffield is 63 miles due East of Liverpool as the crow flies. Dylan and his band performed in Liverpool May 14, then Leicester the 15th before taking the stage at the Gaumont Theater on this day, the 16th. Leicester is a little over an hour South of Sheffield. The road to Sheffield passes near the forests of Nottingham where Robin Hood established his legacy.

It's easy to see why Bob Dylan liked theaters. They were created to showcase spectacle. Here is a link to the Gaumont in Sheffield where he performed this day in 1966. It was torn down two years after Bob's performance there. 

Looking back (yes, I know we've been told, "don't look back") 1966 was a remarkable year for Dylan. It began with some of the initial studio recording for Blonde On Blonde in New York City in January, shortly before commencing on his famous World Tour which helped define his career in many respects. Photos, film footage, bootleg recordings, media coverage put this enigmatic ultra hip young artist in the spotlight crosshairs like never before.

It was a year of several key transitions. He internationally showcased his transition from folk/acoustic to backing rockers that year. He also transitioned from recording in New York to recording in Nashville that year. His third transition would occur in July after a motorcycle accident hospitalized him while riding around on Albert Grossman's farm in Woodstock. Thus commenced a hiatus from touring that for several years would have an unknown duration. This sabbatical from touring generated nearly as much buzz and speculation as his life on the road.

The second recording session for Blonde On Blonde took place in Nashville in February. This, and the third, which took place in March, are superbly detailed in Daryl Sanders' That Thin Wild Mercury Sound, a highly recommended read for all fans.

As has been noted elsewhere, Dylan broke new ground in so many ways, and bringing rock musicians to Nashville was quite notable. Three of the four Beatles recorded there and many other big names. As in all encounters of that magnitude, both sides feel are touched and somewhat transformed by the other. Nashville was never quite the same after that.

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As I write this I'm listening to the Royal Albert Hall concert of 1966, Dylan's final show on the 1966 World Tour, May 27. The setlist, which pretty much remained unchanged during this '66 tour, was stunning at all these concerts. Here's the Sheffield setlist, courtesy Olof Björner's Skeleton Keys.

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The purpose of this post is three-fold. First, to give a shout out to all the chroniclers like Olof Björner, Bill Pagel ( and Karl Eric Andersen ( so that fans can be rewarded with a never ending feast of details and insights into Bob Dylan's catalog and career. Second, to mark this day when Blonde On Blonde was released. And finally, to note that Duluth Dylan Fest is kicking off in less than a week. 

Where and how will you be celebrating Bob Dylan's 80th birthday?

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Duluth Dylan Fest Links


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