Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Where, exactly, did Dylan play his first overseas gig?

London has an important place in the Dylan story: first overseas trip (December 1962/January 1963) and, I think, more gigs than any city except New York – though Dylan Daily readers need no invitation to correct me if that’s wrong.

But where, exactly, did Dylan play his first London gig?

When challenged recently, my (unsure) response was The Pindar of Wakefield pub, near King’s Cross; my Dylan fan companion offered the Troubadour, Kensington. Our interrogator thought it was a pub with a common name, near Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia.

So I checked my Dylan library. Biographers Scaduto, Shelton, Heylin, Sounes and Spitz were helpful, to different degrees, but none is definitive. All three pubs were variously mentioned, but without exact dates. I could find nothing in Gray’s Encyclopedia (though access to the CD-ROM would have been helpful).

After half an hour searching, I eventually found the answer in Nigel Williamson’s Rough Guide: it was, he states, the Troubadour folk club in Kensington, on 18 December 1962, where Dylan played The Ballad Of Hollis Brown.

And then I confirmed it in Derek Barker’s ISIS: A Bob Dylan Anthology. Barker’s short article, One Time In London, was perfect for my needs – he gives a detailed chronology of Dylan’s 1962/63 London trip, confirming that all three of us had been nearly right.

The itinerary was: 18 Dec Troubadour; 22 Dec Pindar Of Wakefield; 23 Dec King & Queen, Foley Street.

Did any Dylan Daily reader catch any of these historic gigs? A million to one against, I’d guess.

Gerry Smith