OK, we know, he’s not a native Rhode Islander, but perhaps his greatest moment as a musician came in Newport in 1965.

Singer-songwriter, “song and dance man” Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman on this day in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. Dylan moved to New York City in 1961 and the rest is history. He quickly rose to the top of the New York City folk scene and began to fill concert halls around the world.

Dylan made his debut playing solo acoustic guitar at the Newport Folk Festival on July 26, 1963 and returned to the event the following two summers. It was in July, 1965, when he surprised the Folk Festival audience by coming out on stage with an electric guitar and a rock band behind him. He then launched into “Maggie’s Farm,” a fast paced rocker, to the sounds of cheers and boos…

There’s more than enough debate on how the crowd responded to that performance, we’ll leave that to the Dylanologists to settle. His later career was filled with controversy and achievements including Grammy Awards and a Nobel Prize, numerous albums, box sets, reissues, and more.

Love him or hate him, there’s no question his mark on the music world is well established, and he’ll go down in history as among the greatest popular songwriters ever. To celebrate, we’re sharing a couple of vintage videos of Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music for What'sUpNewp, SO RI, Folk Radio UK and more. He's also a DJ Tuesday night 6-9PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.