Donnerstag, 19. Mai 2011

No Neo Nazis Noted in Nuremberg -- is Clinton Heylin anti-German or just a sloppy researcher?

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of spending UKL 20.00 (plus shipping to Germany) on the "20th Anniversary Edition" of Clinton Heylin's Behind the Shades, only to be sorely disappointed (once again) by his rather sloppy research and his twisting of the truth to add sensationalist overtones to his (otherwise rather dull) writing.

In particular, I'm annoyed (and almost angered) by his perpetuated but outright false claim that at Dylan's July 01, 1978 concert at the Reichsparteitagsgelände (Nazi rallying arena) in Nuremberg (a concert I attended and have rather vivid and fond memories of)
"a couple of dozen neo-Nazis... threw things at him [Dylan] for his affrontery" (p. 483).

Heylin has consistently claimed this (without any substantiation other than his own perceived "expertise" he never gets tired of mentioning when- and wherever he can) as far back as Stolen Moments  -- but his claim has long been dismissed by several eyewitness accounts (not only by German attendants of this concert) in as far back as October 1997 -- why is he still perpetuating his false and totally unsubstantiated claim in his latest (allegedly updated) book fourteen years later?

Since he's the only "Dylan biographer" to claim this (as far as I know) and since all eyewitness accounts (of concert attendants like myself, but also of concert promoter Fritz Rau or Alex Conti of Lake whom I interviewed back in 2006) do NOT report any incident of that kind, Heylin's perpetuation of something long dismissed as blatantly untrue amounts to merely serving equally unfounded stereotypes and prejudices like "there's still a Nazi in every German", "Germans have not learned from history", etc. for the sake of sensationalism -- something I usually associate with sleazy tabloid journalism and not with "the most comprehensive and illuminating account... of one of the twentieth century's defining artists" (publisher's blurp).


  1. Heylin = 'Self-ordained professor'.

  2. Heylin may have mixed up the 1.7.1978 Nuremberg show with the 29.6.1978 concert in West Berlin, at the Deutschlandhalle. At that show, during "Blowin' in the wind", there was an incident involving audience members throwing things. At some point during the performance Dylan himself requests the house lights to be put on. The incident is audible on the audience tape and was reported at the time in the local press.

  3. Entirely possible -- but those people in Berlin weren't "neo-Nazis" either but by now well-established "lefties" (68er) who felt betrayed by their idol appearing with a full band including doo.wop style female backing vocals (not unlike Newport 65 or the 1966 Manchester "Judas" incident).

  4. Deutschlandradio just aired Günter Amendt's "Back to the Sixties - Bob Dylan zum Sechzigsten" (from 2001) -- Amendt also states EXPLICITLY that there was no incident/disturbance whatsoever during the entire show (almost three hours) and stated VERBATIM (translation by myself):

    "Nobody but British Dylan biographer Clinton Heylin saw the 'couple of dozen neo-Nazis' allegedly throwing things during 'Masters of War'."

    This is also in the print edition, published in 2001 -- yet another eye-witness (Günter Amendt had been allowed to be part of the 1978 entourage by impressario Fritz Rau) contradicting Heylin's anti-German "propaganda"....