At about the same
time, the enigmatic folk singer/songwriter Bob Dylan was also looking
for a change. Although seen as the heir apparent to the iconic folksinger
Woody Guthrie, Dylan was beginning to explore a new sound. Just as the
Hawks were not satisfied playing behind the rock-a-billy Ronnie Hawkins,
Dylan was increasingly dissatisfied playing just his folkie self.
Dylan needed a band to support him on his next tour, which would combine his traditional folk set with a second set of electric songs. A friend of the Hawks who was working in the office of Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, helped bring the Dylan and Robbie Robertson together. It wasn't long before Robertson had talked Dylan into signing up the rest of the band.
On their tour across America, Europe and Australia,
Dylan and the Hawks were booed and jeared almost nightly. Many folk fans
went to the concerts just to show Dylan their anger at his "selling
out" to pop music. Before long, Levon dropped out - he saw no point
in performing in front of an audience that was constantly booing. The
others stuck it out, and along the way, helped Dylan to create a new sound,
a confluence of raw musical power and intense, lyrical poetry. The audience's
anger only seemed to spur them on. The so-called "Royal Albert Hall"
concert (which actually it took place in Manchester), documents the confrontation
between performer and audience. When one fan called Dylan a Judas, Dylan
slurred back "I don't believe you. You're a liar!" He then turns
back to his band and says "Play fucking loud!"