Rolling Thunder Revue: An intimate portrait of Dylan and friends
12 June 2019
Martin Scorsese, the master filmmaker behind Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, has joined forces with Netflix to tell the story of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. LESLEY SMITH looks back at Ken Regan's exclusive images of this motley crew of friends, musicians and lovers on the road.
From its inception, the Rolling Thunder Revue would be unlike any rock concert that had gone before.
Bob Dylan's 1974 album, Blood on the Tracks, had been hailed as a return to form. But he shunned a stadium tour in favour of playing mostly small town venues, bringing together an impressive line-up of friends and creative collaborators from Joan Baez, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Roger McGuinn and Mick Ronson to T-Bone Burnett, Allen Ginsberg and Harry Dean Stanton.
Each night, Dylan would reinvent his back catalogue and introduce the audience to the songs that would eventually become his 1976 album, Desire. The band played between three and five hours a night, packing out venues and attracting famous fans like Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler.
Not content with just the music, Dylan had a film crew in tow, filming footage for his four hour, impressionistic movie, Renaldo and Clara.
A rare glimpse behind the shades of one of music’s most enigmatic performers.
He also asked Ken Regan, a photographer he had worked with in the past, to capture the revue.
Ken Regan had photographed a previous Dylan gig, taking several shots of Dylan’s mother. Rather than publishing them, Ken sent them to Dylan, winning his trust. The notoriously private Dylan then invited Regan to document his travelling circus, with only his wife and children off limits.
Ken Regan’s previously unpublished shots of Dylan and his troupe of all-star performers offer us a window into one of the most mythologised moments in rock history and a rare glimpse behind the shades of one of music’s most enigmatic performers.
Rolling Thunder: Photographs by Ken Regan is published by Ormond Yard Press, March 2016. All Images © Estate of Ken Regan/Ormond Yard Press.
A version of this article was originally published on 17 February 2016.