Look back: Bob Dylan, Terry Ellis and me

The first article I wrote for The Courier was about a debate, held in the Business School, about the future of the music industry. The three speakers had all studied at Newcastle before working their way up to prominent positions within the music industry; among them was Terry Ellis, co-founder of Chrysalis Records and later chairman of the BPI.

I stumbled through a brief interview with all three guests before the debate, and Ellis mentioned that he had edited the music page of The Courier in the 1960s. He asked me if The Courier was now printed in colour, and I nervously told him that it was, hoping that he wouldn’t ask me anything else about the paper and find out that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

Little did I know then that during his time with the paper Ellis had interviewed Bob Dylan. Not only that, but this interview was filmed and shown to the world, via D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary of Dylan’s 1965 tour of England, Dont Look Back.

The film has been hailed as one of the most significant documentaries ever made. Its fly-on-the-wall, warts-and-all style was groundbreaking at the time but has influenced – if not defined – the music documentary genre ever since.

And the film shows Ellis attempting to interview Dylan, who engaged the student in a long philosophical debate before his concert at the City Hall in Newcastle. The Courier didn’t quite get a mention in the film, but its music editor was shown holding his own in the discussion where he “was never sure who was doing the interviewing”.

The encounter made it into the next issue of the Courier (next to a review of the “new, fresh sound” of The Sound of Music), where Ellis served as music editor. Two years later, having graduated from Newcastle and moved into the music industry, Ellis formed the Wright-Ellis Agency with Chris Wright, with this soon renamed as Chrysalis Records. Twenty years later Ellis became the chairman of the BPI, and his successes in the music industry saw him invited back to Newcastle for the debate in 2013.

Bob Dylan, on the other hand… not too sure what happened to him.

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