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Home movies featuring Bob Dylan, Beatles are released

By Scott Bauer
Friday October 04, 2002

Home movies aren’t supposed to be this cool: footage of Bob Dylan goofing around at Hamlet’s castle. The Beatles taking the stage in 1964. 

But for more than 30 years, drummer Mickey Jones had those and other 8 mm images sitting in his garage collecting dust. He says he never gave it much thought. Now he is releasing them for the first time. 

aJones said. “It adds a little bit more texture to the world of Bob Dylan photographs.” 

Jones, 61, took the movies during his career as a drummer, most famously backing Dylan during his 1966 world tour. It was on that tour that Dylan played electric rock for the first time, shocking many fans who saw it as selling out. (The band’s regular drummer, Levon Helm, apparently got sick of being booed during the U.S. leg of the tour and dropped out.) 

Historian C.P. Lee of the University of Salford in Manchester, England, said Jones’ films offer a fresh window on a cataclysmic period in both Dylan’s career and rock music. 

“To my way of thinking, it’s better than writing a diary,” said Lee, who has written books about Dylan on film and the 1966 tour. “If you’ve got a diary, you mediate it. If you’ve got a camera, it just shows what it shows.” 

The silent, full-color tapes include a dark-sunglass-wearing Dylan getting a private tour of Hamlet’s castle in Denmark, members of his band goofing off between gigs, and fans waiting outside hotels for a glimpse of their hero. 

In the past decade there has been a greater demand for rare footage, insider documentation and other rock ’n’ roll collectors items, said Pete Howard, a Dylan historian, and editor and publisher of ICE Magazine. 

“The whole landscape for releasing outtakes has moved into the mainstream,” Howard said. “Ten years ago this would have been a freaky release.” 

Dylan was unaware of the project and did not participate in it, said his spokesman Elliott Mintz. 

“He just has nothing to say about the project,” Mintz said. 

The Jones tapes show Dylan and his band — who would later become The Band — on stage, in hotel rooms, taxis and buses, and walking the streets of Europe. 

Dylan’s concerts in the spring of 1966 came on the heels of his infamous performance at the Newport Folk Festival in the summer of 1965, the first time he plugged in. By going electric, Dylan was largely abandoning the formula that had propelled him to fame. 

Jones, now a TV and film actor living in California, offers a firsthand account in voiceover of the booing, slow hand-clapping and foot-stomping that greeted Dylan each night from Hawaii to London. 

The drama reached a high point in Manchester, where an enraged audience member shouted “Judas!” at Dylan. The band responded with an in-your-face version of “Like a Rolling Stone,” highlighted by Jones’ cannon-fire-like drumming. 

The film images — along with Jones’ commentary on such things as haggling with Dylan over pay — are important and unprecedented pop culture documents, Howard said. 

Aside from snippets shown at a Dylan convention in England five years ago, the footage has not been seen by anyone besides Jones’ friends and family. 

At the urging of Joel Gilbert, who portrays Dylan in the cover band Highway 61 Revisited, Jones set about transferring the films to digital for sale on DVD and video. 

The 91-minute movie, titled ”1966 World Tour, The Home Movies,” is being sold only on Jones’ commercial Web site, ($19.95 VHS, $24.95 DVD). 

Although Dylan is the focus, Jones includes footage of other famous people he met during his career, including the Beatles in never-before-seen shots on stage in Paris in 1964. 

Jones wasn’t the only one with a camera rolling during Dylan’s 1966 tour. Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker shot a documentary called “Eat the Document” that has been shown sporadically in public but is not commercially available. 

Jones said he hopes his home movies, which show Pennebaker making his film, will motivate Dylan to release “Eat the Document.”