By Simon Donohue
It’s a landmark moment in the career of one of the world’s most important musicians and it happened right here in Manchester exactly fifty years ago.
In May a charity fundraiser in aid of the Manchester District Music Archive will celebrate what became legendary as Bob Dylan’s Judas moment.
Possibly the most famous heckle ever emerged from the crowd while Dylan was entertaining fans at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall on May 17, 1966.
Dylan put down the acoustic guitar which had for so long soundtracked his American folk music revival, and introduced electric backing band The Hawks (later reborn as The Band).
Amid slow hand clapping and jeering, a cry of ‘Judas’ was heard across the auditorium. Equally legendary was Dylan’s reply: “You’re a liar… I don’t believe you.” Turning to the band, Dylan added: “Play it xxxxxxx loud!”
It wasn’t until 1999 that the man who made the ‘Judas’ cry was revealed as Keith Butler.
He later told the MTV.com of his embarrassment about the exchange.
Like many others, he felt Dylan was turning his back on the acoustic sound which had united millions of fans across the world. Instead, he was helping to introduce an entirely new genre.
Today the Free Trade Hall is no longer a venue, serving instead as the home to the Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester hotel in Peter Street.
Step inside and it’s difficult to imagine that this is the place where a new era of rock and roll music was controversially kick started.
Watch Bob Dylan’s Judas moment in Manchester
Electric 50 – Bob Dylan at the Free Trade Hall Judas Redux will be a celebration of that famous night in 1966, this time taking place at the Academy 3, Manchester. It is being organised by another Manchester music legend, CP Lee, who was there on the night in 1966.
Tickets for the event on May 17, 2016 are available here.
A BBC Radio 6 Music interview with CP Lee is available here.
Hosted by veteran DJ Andy Kershaw and with tickets priced at £10, proceeds will support the Manchester District Music Archive.
If you want to visit the scene of the original concert, you need to go the Radisson Blu Manchester hotel, 16 Peter Street, Manchester, M60 2DS.