Bob Dylan played a warm-up gig in 1966 at Riverside College that does not appear to be documented in any book or on any web-site, according to filmmaker and "New Media Maven" Sandi Bachom.
In a recent telephone interview, Bachom told me she attended an open rehearsal concert by Bob Dylan and The Hawks, then attended the after-party, where Donovan was one of the guests.
I was contacted by Bachom after a friend sent her a link to my Examiner story about Dylan's appearance at the 1963 March On Washington. She informed me that her "old man", the late Stuart Scharf, played guitar with Dylan, Len Chandler, and Joan Baez on Chandler's song, "Hold On (Keep Your Eyes On The Prize)."
I thanked her for the information, and asked if she had any other Dylan-related stories. Bachom informed me that she not only attended a 1973 mixing session, with Dylan in the room, for "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," but had seen an electric mid-1960s show, probably with her friend, a young Jackson Browne.
Bachom is the daughter of two Walt Disney Animation Studio artists, film editor Jack Bachom and airbrush artist Dorothy Higgins, who worked together on such classic "Golden Age" films as Bambi, Fantasia, and Pinocchio . Sandi grew up in Hollywood, California, where she was a folksinger and a surfer. In 1965, Sandi moved to Boston for a while, went back to California, then joined Scharf in New York City in 1967, where she lives to this day.
Bachom went on the become an award-winning producer of television commercials, and has created hundreds of films she calls “Schlockumentaries.” She has also written three books, created an on-line tribute to Manny's World after the legendary music store closed (which features an autographed photo of Dylan), and is currently organizing an eight-day Greenwich Village Music Festival.
Once we got on the subject of the mid-1960s concert, we spent the next couple of hours trying to figure out when she saw this rare, electric Dylan show.
Although she had been a fan since his early folkie days, Bachom was surprised to discover that Dylan was initially "electric" only from July 25, 1965, (Newport) to July 29, 1966 (motorcycle accident). "I didn't realize how rare that was," she said, referring to seeing a concert during this one year time frame.
Bachom remembered that she saw the electric Dylan show "at Riverside College, in Orange County. That's 'The Barricades Of Heaven' Jackson (Browne) sang about."
So when, exactly, did this concert take place?
We both went into detective mode. While I was rummaging through my Dylan books, I directed her to Olof's Still On The Road site, to show her where Dylan played during this time period. "I'm amazed such a site even exists!" she said. On the "1965 Concerts, Interviews & Recording Sessions" page, it listed a one-off gig at the Hollywood Bowl on September 3, then a return to California at the end of the year.
"When did (The Beatles album) Rubber Soul come out?" Bachom asked, trying to figure out when she was in Boston. When I told her it was early December, 1965, she said, "I associate my time there with Rubber Soul . . . It was new at the time. I know I was there for the great blackout of (November) 1965."
So the Riverside College date could not have happened in late 1965. "How old were we in 1965?" Sandi asked herself out loud. Then she laughed, "In '65 . . .he was 17", quoting the famous Jackson Browne line.
"I’m pretty sure our friend Jackson was with us but I'm not sure.....Hey, it was the 60s after all! ..Jackson and I were friends in California, so we probably went to the show. He was so influenced by Dylan. He idolized him. I have a picture he signed some place, he wrote on the back, 'Sandi babe . . . motor highways . .something . . ' . . .very Dylanesque . . He signed it 'Jack.' We called him 'Jackie' in those days."
I pointed out to Sandi that, according to Clinton Heylin in A Life In Stolen Moments, Dylan was on the West Coast in March and April of 1966, although no California shows were listed during this time.
Information about the show was still a puzzle. Sandi asked various friends to help her figure out when she saw this "mystery" concert. She finally heard, via email, from her friend Richard Alderson, who professionally taped Dylan's shows around this time:
"This was a warm up for the '66 world tour. Why it doesn't exist on any site is weird, except that I think it was not really a booked concert, just sort of a rehearsal with an audience. I missed it because I was in NYC building the sound system for the tour - The next stop was Honolulu, Hawaii. The Hawaiian and the Australian parts of this tour are sketchily documented and I did not tape them as I did the European ones."
Dylan and the Hawks played the Honolulu International Center Arena on April 9, 1966. It has been documented that Dylan rehearsed with the Hawks and new drummer Mickey Jones, in Los Angeles, on March 30. So the concert probably took place the first week of April.
As for the show itself, Bachom recalled, "We were total Dylan freaks. We were folkies, and just starting to get into the protest thing. I just remember it was a huge theater. It was fancy.
"So we went to this concert and the first half was "Mr. Tambourine Man" and all that...and then he came out with THE BAND...It was like the scene from (the Mel Brooks movie) The Producers, the audience's jaws dropped. i remember that pretty well. They played 'Like A Rolling Stone'. . ."
I pressed her to see if she could remember what other songs he did. She thought Dylan sang an acoustic "Masters Of War", but he had dropped this from his set list during this period, although that doesn't mean he didn't dust if off for this performance. I mentioned "Gates Of Eden", and she remembered that, then I said "She Belongs To Me," and she started singing, "She's an artist, she don't look back," then said, "Yeah, he did that too."
"You're scraping the plaque off my memory," she laughed at one point. "I was an eyewitness to history!"
There was a party after the concert which Bachom attended. "It was a big deal. Donovan was there, and Dylan. They spent a lot of time in another room, probably getting high and playing guitars."
Looking back, Sandi is amazed by the attention Dylan still receives from his fans.
"When I told Paul Colby (owner and manager of legendary Greenwich Village club, the Bitter End) that I was being interviewed about Dylan, we both talked about how dumbfounded we were. Paul asked, 'What is it about Dylan'?
"To me, it appears to have the sort of reverence usually reserved for dead people, like Elvis or John Lennon."
In closing, Sandi said she'd "love to urge people to join and share their memories of seeing Dylan or other artists in the village. I started this thing on Facebook, and the 65 comments so far are amazing!"
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