How Bob Dylan made George Harrison respect Hip Hop music

In the vibrant era of the 1960s, two musical legends, Bob Dylan and George Harrison, forged a profound friendship that transcended decades. Their mutual respect’s artistry blossomed into a unique camaraderie, culminating in their collaboration within the supergroup Traveling Wilburys, alongside Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.

While Dylan, a prolific songwriter with a repertoire of over 600 songs, remained musically open-minded, Harrison, one of the iconic Beatles, harbored reservations about certain post-60s genres like Hard Rock, Metal, and Hip Hop.

Interestingly, it was Bob Dylan who played a pivotal role in broadening George Harrison‘s musical horizons, particularly in cultivating a newfound appreciation for Hip Hop. The revelation of this intriguing tale comes from an interview with George’s son, Dhani Harrison, conducted by The Line of Best Fit in 2023. Dhani recounted how, in his youth, he sought approval from his parents to embrace the American hip-hop collective band Wu-Tang Clan. In response, his parents shared the captivating story of how Dylan influenced Harrison’s perspective on Hip Hop.

During a Traveling Wilburys recording session, Dylan, known for his unconventional style, sported a backward hat. Puzzled by this choice, Harrison questioned him, asking why he wore his hat that way.

Dylan’s response was both enlightening and transformative: “Because that’s what rappers do, and they are the only ones saying anything!” This revelation marked a turning point for Harrison, leading to a newfound respect for the genre. As Dhani Harrison noted, this moment laid the foundation for his father’s evolving views on Hip Hop, eventually fostering connections with artists like RZA later in life.

George Harrison’s reverence for Bob Dylan extended beyond mere admiration; it bordered on devotion. According to Tom Petty, their Traveling Wilburys bandmate, Harrison went to great lengths to immerse himself in Dylan’s music, even creating his bootlegs of Dylan’s performances. Petty revealed in a 2002 Rolling Stone interview that “George quoted Bob like people quote Scripture.”

Harrison’s adoration reached a point where he would clandestinely record Dylan, capturing moments of musical brilliance as the Folk Rock icon played the piano. Harrison’s profound admiration for Dylan even manifested in playful antics, with him hiding in the bushes, secretly filming Dylan, a gesture that added a touch of humor to their friendship.

Tom Petty recounted an amusing anecdote from the early days of the Traveling Wilburys, where Harrison, initially awestruck by Dylan, eventually eased into treating him as an equal. Despite the initial reverence, the camaraderie that developed among the Wilburys underscored the mutual admiration and respect shared by these musical luminaries.

In the end, Dylan acknowledged that he, too, was in awe of his fellow bandmates, bridging the gap between legendary figures and fostering a creative synergy within the Traveling Wilburys.


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