It's 50 years since Bob Dylan went electric at Manchester's Free Trade Hall.
Express Newspapers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
It's 50 years since Bob Dylan went electric at Manchester's Free Trade Hall.

Story highlights

Dylan was booed by crowd and called "Judas" after singing with electric guitar

Other controversial acts include Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" hip moves in 1950s

CNN —  

Fifty years ago today, folk hero Bob Dylan caused an uproar when he took to the stage at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall with – wait for it – an electric guitar.

“Judas!” yelled someone in the crowd, referencing a traitor of biblical proportions.

“I don’t believe you,” came Dylan’s drawling, incredulous reply.

For the British fans who had gathered to see their folk idol – his 1963 album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” had reached No. 1 in the UK – this was the ultimate betrayal.

RARE PHOTOS: Bob Dylan, in the beginning

Audience members started slow hand-clapping. There were boos. People walked out.

After initially wooing fans with an acoustic set, Dylan returned in the second half of the gig with an electric guitar and his band The Hawks.

They played “Tell Me, Momma.” Defiant in the face of growing heckles from the crowd, Dylan apparently told his band to “play it loud.”

If anyone knew the times were a-changin, it was Dylan. Another electric song he played that night – “Like a Rolling Stone” – became a worldwide hit, reaching No. 2 on the U.S. charts.

Ahead of Dylan’s 75th birthday next week on May 24, we take a look at some other music performances that got the world talking.

1956: Elvis’ pelvic thrusts get us all shook up

Even after six decades, Elvis Presley’s vigorous pelvic thrusts on the Milton Berle Show on June 5, 1956 are no less electrifying.

The swagger. The sensuously curled lip. The outrageous gyrations below the belt – and all on primetime TV! No wonder the crowd was hysterical.

Presley’s sexually-charged performance of “Hound Dog” was both denounced by the conservative press and lapped up by a new generation of wide-eyed teenage fans.

When Presley performed on the Ed Sullivan show two years later, CBS insisted the sex symbol be filmed from the waist-up only.

It did nothing to dampen Presley’s appeal. In 1988 “Hound Dog” was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

READ MORE: The Jewish tailor who made Elvis’ most famous suit

1962: Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to JFK

OK, so it’s more of a breathy, spoken-word performance than a song.

But when Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to U.S. President John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962, it became one of the most enduring images of the Hollywood star – and an intriguing glimpse into her personal relationship with arguably the most powerful man in the world.

First lady Jackie Kennedy, meanwhile, was not present at the 45th birthday bash for her husband.

Dressed in a white rhinestone-encrusted dress so tight she was reportedly sewn into it, Monroe’s sultry rendition of “Happy Birthday” marked her last major public appearance before she died in mysterious circumstances on August 5,1962.

Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., an aide to President Kennedy at the time, said of Monroe that night: “The image of this exquisite, beguiling and desperate girl will always stay with me.”

“I do not think I have seen anyone so beautiful; I was enchanted by her manner and her wit, at once so masked, so ingenuous and so penetrating.”

READ MORE: Rare photos of Marilyn Monroe with Kennedy brothers

1978: Bob Marley’s “One Love Peace” moment

It has been described as the “Third World Woodstock.”

But the “One Love Peace Concert” held in Jamaica on April 22, 1978, saw political rivals come together in a way rarely seen at other music festivals across the world.

The reggae concert, headed by Bob Marley and the Wailers, was held at a time of civil war between the People’s National Party and Jamaica Labour Party.

During a performance of “Jammin,’” Marley joined the hands of People’s National Party leader Michael Manley and Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labour Party.

Guardian music journalist Robin Denselow, who was there at the time, remembers it as “an extraordinary, if brief, moment of hope for Kingston; Bob Marley could hardly be blamed for presiding over a Peace Concert that failed to end the violence.”

1992: Sinead O’Connor tears up a picture of the Pope

Unlike Bob Dylan’s 1960s electric guitar performance, when Sinead O’Connor tore up a picture of the Pope live on television in 1992, the crowd was seemingly too shocked to even make a sound.

Following a chilling a capella rendition of Bob Marley’s song “War” on Saturday Night Live, O’Connor held up a picture of Pope John Paul II and proceeded to shred it.

“Fight the real enemy,” said the Irish singer, before throwing the torn-up pieces at the camera.

READ MORE: Sinead O’Connor found safe

During the song, O’Connor had replaced the word “racism” with “child abuse,” in an attempt to highlight child abuse within the Catholic church.

The following week, actor Joe Pesci appeared on the show holding a taped-together picture of the Pope. Pesci told the audience he “would have given her such a smack” – to huge applause.

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