'Just amazing': Glasgow music fan shares memories of 1966 Bob Dylan city concert

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Bob Dylan, Princes Street, Edinburgh
Bob Dylan, Princes Street, Edinburgh

WHEN BOB Dylan announced he would be playing Glasgow in May 1966, James Bradbury was one of the first in the queue for tickets.

“I assumed they would be like gold dust, so me and my girlfriend at the time, Margaret Hillyear, decided to stay up all night to make sure we got them,” grins James.

Glasgow Times: Bob Dylan
Glasgow Times: Bob Dylan

“I’d been going out with Margaret since we met in the nightclub downstairs at the Dennistoun Palais – I lived in Drumchapel, she was from Caledonia Road in the Gorbals.

“The tickets were going on sale on the Monday morning, so we went to the Maryland on Scott Street on the Sunday night, then down to the Odeon on Renfield Street straight after to join the queue.”

To James’s great surprise, there were few people already waiting.

Glasgow Times: Bob Dylan on stage
Glasgow Times: Bob Dylan on stage

“To be honest, even by the morning, there were only about 20,” he says. “I remember the Evening Times photographer came to take pictures of the fans.”

He laughs: “I actually turned my back when the photographs were being taken as I was supposed to be at work. The back of my head and leather jacket are there for all to see, though.”

It got busier later, however, and the gig was soon completely sold out.

James says his first experience of Bob Dylan was when his pal “Walter Souter was carrying The Freewheeling Bob Dylan album under his arm and telling everyone who would listen that this guy was terrific.”

Glasgow Times: Bob Dylan fan James Bradbury
Glasgow Times: Bob Dylan fan James Bradbury

He adds: “It was 1963, I was 15, and Walter was a couple of years older than me. The following year, I was working as an apprentice electrician and could afford to buy The Times They Are A-Changing – and they certainly were.

“I bought several of his albums in the sixties, all now gone - when I left Glasgow my parents cleared out all my bits and pieces including records. But now I have more than 30 Dylan CDs.”

The concert itself, says James, is “a bit of a blur”.

Glasgow Times: James, left with pals Brian Wood and Stevie Kelly in 1968
Glasgow Times: James, left with pals Brian Wood and Stevie Kelly in 1968

“I was in the stalls about ten rows from the front,” he recalls. “Evidently the Young Socialists and others had planned some disruptive actions. To be honest I was never aware of any of this - perhaps I was too tuned into the performance and the music.”

The May 1966 Glasgow gig was Dylan’s first visit to Scotland. He had taken a lot of stick on this tour – his folk purist fans believed he had sold out as soon as he picked up an electric guitar, and jeers and boos had become common. Glasgow’s Young Socialists had indeed planned a mass ‘heckle’, persuading as many of their members as possible to go along and make their feelings known.

Glasgow Times: James on holiday in Jersey with his mum and sister's pal.
Glasgow Times: James on holiday in Jersey with his mum and sister's pal.

Dylan played Desolation Row and Mr Tambourine Man, and then went electric, with Tell Me, Momma and finishing with Like A Rolling Stone in the first half. There were some walkouts and according to our sister newspaper The Herald, chants of “we want Dylan”, to which he replied: “Dylan got sick backstage. I’m here to take his place.”

During his Glasgow visit, Dylan stayed at the North British Hotel in George Square (now the Millennium) and there is footage of him with Robbie Robertson, in the hotel bedroom, playing an unreleased song, What Kind Of Friend Is This?

Later, in a bizarre incident, a waiter arrived with Dylan’s room service, only to launch into a tirade of abuse accusing the singer of being “a f****** traitor to folk music.” The driver-bodyguard swiftly dealt with the intrusion but the band’s tour bus was also attacked, with recording and hi-fi equipment stolen.

Before he left Glasgow, Dylan watched police dog handlers in George Square and as he got into the car, a bunch of kids surround him waving autograph books.

He asks them if they had been at the gig the night before and if they had booed. “I want the names of all the people who booed,” he joked, before driving off.

For James, the Glasgow gig 56 years ago lives long in his memory.

READ MORE: Amazing photos of Glasgow on show at city exhibition

“To see your musical hero in the flesh was just amazing,” he says. “My only disappointment was that he never played Positively 4th Street, which was a big favourite and remains so to this day.

“I have been fortunate enough to see Dylan three times more - I took my youngest son (I have four) to see him when he was seventeen, around the same age as I was when I went to the Odeon concert.”

James has also seen him at Wembley – “the acoustics are dreadful, it’s not a great venue” – plus Hop Farm Festival in Kent, and the Hammersmith Odeon.

“Mark Knopfler opened for him, then stayed on stage for a couple of songs – it was an absolutely tremendous show,” says James, who now lives in London.

“I still visit Glasgow regularly, and meet up with my pals from ‘back in the day’.”

He smiles: “We go to The Horseshoe and relive the glory days….”

Did you see Dylan in Glasgow? Get in touch with Times Past to share your memories and photos.

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