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A simple world tour in which Bob Dylan makes history and is decried as being a Judas!

DVD Review: 1966 World Tour [The Home Movies] – Through the Camera of Bob Dylan’s Drummer Mickey Jones

When I got 1966 World Tour [The Home Movies] I assumed, like many, that this was a video about Bob Dylan. I was wrong. Then I looked at, and read the title of the DVD: 1966 World Tour [The Home Movies] – Through the Camera of Bob Dylan's Drummer Mickey Jones. My mistake was that I saw a picture of Bob Dylan and jumped to the wrong conclusion.

This is a set of home movies filmed by the drummer Mickey Jones during Dylan's 1966 world tour. It is narrated by Mickey Jones and the music is provided by “Highway 61 Revisited”, a Bob Dylan tribute band. While they never put a large disclaimer on the package saying that this was not about Bob Dylan, neither did they try to imply that this was more than what the title states.

Okay, so now you are thinking, “Boy this is a rip-off!” But it is not! In fact, I was very impressed with both the quality of the home movies and the information provided by Mickey Jones about the tour, Dylan, and the early formation of musical group The Band.

Who is Mickey Jones and why is he doing this? Musician turned actor Mickey Jones was a world renowned drummer in the late '50s/early '60s who got his start with Trini Lopez and Johnny Rivers. At a chance meeting, Dylan told Jones he would like to use him as a drummer. Almost a year later, Jones got a call from Dylan's manager Albert Grossman, not to make an album, but to hire him to be the drummer on Dylan's first electric world tour, a tour that would make musical history.

Prior to 1966, Bob Dylan was known as the king of the new folk music movement. He had a large and loyal following and when he showed up at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with an electric guitar and a rock and roll band that was mostly made up of members of the Paul Butterfield blues band, he stunned his fans. After Newport, he teamed up with the rock and roll combo Levon and The Hawks to tour the states.

The Hawks had been the back-up band of rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins from 1959 until 1963. While members flowed in and out of the Hawks over the years, the core group consisted of Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, and Rick Danko.

During this U.S. electric tour, Dylan and the Hawks were confronted by crowds angry at the reduced acoustic and the addition of the electric music. Levon Helm even dropped out of the tour after a few dates. He was followed soon by drummers Bobby Gregg and Sandy Konikoff. This was where Mickey Jones came in. He was recruited as the drummer for the world tour.

After agreeing to the terms, Jones packed up his drums and his 8mm video camera and joined the group as they headed to Hawaii, Australia, and then to Europe. Even though Dylan started each night with a long acoustic set, when they began the electric set, the crowds begin to boo and heckle.

The angst of the tour came to a head on May 17 of 1966 when Dylan and the Hawks appeared at Manchester's Free Trade Hall. Toward the end of the electric set, an audience member shouted “Judas!” Now this is where the opinions come in. What appears to happen is that Dylan says, “I don't believe you. You're a liar!” He then turns to the Hawks. Some say that Dylan said the next line, others say it has a British accent and that it was not Dylan but rather a stage hand. “Play…fucking…loud!” is heard just before they launch into an acidic version of “Like a Rolling Stone”. It is recorded on the DVD both in the main video as well as in the extras with Mickey Jones in an interview after the release of No Direction Home three years later. Listen to the DVD and decide for yourself.

1966 World Tour [The Home Movies] contains a lot of historical information and tidbits that make it a joy to watch — for example, when the European press was critical of Dylan's use of electric music, they would make disparaging comments like, “The band would begin to play,” disrespecting The Hawks by not using their name. This eventually would be the catalyst for The Hawks to change their name to The Band.

The DVD contains interviews with the sound man Richard Alderson, Trini Lopez, Johnny Rivers, and Charlie Daniels. If you are a fan of '60s music, of Dylan, The Band, or of musical history in general, then this is a DVD for you.

As a side note, if Mickey Jones looks familiar to you, it is because after the Dylan tour and after several years as the drummer for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, he became an actor. Along with movies like Sling Blade, National Lampoon's Vacation and Total Recall, he spent some time on Bay Watch (1990-1992) and played Pete Bilker on Home Improvement (1991-1999).

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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