Story after story exists behind the scenes of recording artists and their music. Often the stories behind the music are remembered just as well as the songs, songwriters or musicians. Some even lead to an unexpected ending.
Today in Music History: May 12, 1963
Bob Dylan. Back in the 60s many performers secured what would be their big break with an invitation to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. With that thought in mind, let's lead off with a question: Why do we not find a performance footage of Bob Dylan on The Ed Sullivan Show?
Actually, as an aspiring young musician with little national attention, Dylan received the invitation but never performed.
Here is his story:
Bob Dylan was slated to make his first nationwide television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 12, 1963. For the show, Dylan decided to perform “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”, a satirical blues number skewering the conservative John Birch Society and the red-hunting paranoia associated with it.
A few days earlier, Bob Dylan auditioned the song for Ed Sullivan who seemed to have no issue with it. However, on the day of the show during the dress rehearsal, an executive from the CBS Standards and Practices department decided Dylan could not perform the song due to its controversial nature.
When the show’s producer, Bob Precht, informed Dylan of the decision, Dylan responded saying, “No; this is what I want to do. If I can’t play my song, I’d rather not appear on the show.” Rather than choose a new song to perform or change the lyrics (as the Rolling Stones and the Doors on Ed Sullivan would agree to do), a young Bob Dylan walked off the set of the country’s highest-rated variety show.
Do you think Bob Dylan should have been able to perform the song? Keep in mind this was the 60s!
What is so ironic is that Bob Dylan more than likely scored MORE publicity, which did more for his career, from this event than he would have ever received from his appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Looks like walking out paid off for Dylan! C'est la vie!
And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...