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Sir Paul McCartney is about to release another solo album. Arguably the most successful of the living Beatles, Sir Paul has worked with and met some of the greats in his time. But was he close friends with one of his songwriting idols, Bob Dylan?
Speaking about the launch of his third album, McCartney III, Sir Paul spoke about the influence Bob Dylan had on him and their working respect.
He told Uncut magazine: “I always like what he does. Sometimes I wish I was a bit more like Bob. He’s legendary … and doesn’t give a shit! But I’m not like that.
“His new album? I thought it was really good. He writes really well.
“I love his singing – he came through the standards albums like a total crooner. But, yeah, I like his new stuff.
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“People ask me who I’m a fan of and Bob Dylan and Neil Young always make the list.”
But this does not suggest the pair were close, or even friends.
However, according to Mark Ellen, the co-founder of Mojo and Q magazines, there was a historic meeting between Bob and The Beatles, including Sir Paul on August 28, 1964, when they were introduced by a mutual friend and journalist Al Aronowitz.
The two mega musos met in a room in the Delmonico hotel at Park Avenue and 59th in New York City.
According to legend, this was allegedly when the Liverpudlian rockstars smoked marijuana for the first time, with Sir Ringo Starr ignoring the etiquette of sharing his joint with the group.
Instead, he “chugged through” the joint quickly and soon was giggling, while Brian Epstein, the band’s manager, was reported as saying: “I’m so high I’m up on the ceiling.”
As well as this, Sir Paul was reported as having instructed the roadie Mal Evans to write everything down he said, as he believed he was having some strong epiphanies.
Bob Dylan, of course, always the cool folk singer, was reported answering the hotel phone, shouting: “This is Beatlemania here!”
Later, Sir Paul said of the incident: “Untill then we’d been hard scotch and Coke men.”
Mark said of the meeting: “The meeting was a game-changer but it wasn’t the instant dramatic meeting of superpowers that people imagine.”
But Al said: “Until the advent of rap, pop music remained largely derivative of that night at the Delmonico.
“That meeting didn’t just change pop music – it changed the times.”
In Mark’s reading of the incident, The Beatles were gaining such fame they would have likely preferred the anonymity of Bob’s life, while he was vying for the fame they enjoyed.
He suggests the changes which came in The Beatles’ later music, which saw them focus on more experimental and personal themes, would have come anyway, regardless of the eye-opening experience of meeting Bob.
Mark said: “These changes were probably going to happen anyway.
“And the Beatles and Dylan were eventually going to meet because they had to meet, just as the Beatles had to meet Elvis eventually.
“They were the biggest things on the planet at the time.”
While Sir Paul didn’t allude to this meeting in his recent interview, evidently the event has become part of the rock ‘n’ roll legend.
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