Lesser-Known Dylan – #1 – The Plugz

Casual fans might not know of his short-lived collaboration with two members of The Plugz, an unheralded punk band from Los Angeles, and guitarist J.J. Holiday. Their performance on the Letterman Show in 1984 is one of the best of Dylan’s career, wildly raw and energetic. Judge for yourself below.

First up was a rocking version of Sonny Boy Williamson‘s Don’t Start Me Talkin’.

Next was a much peppy version of License to Kill.

Finally, a vigorous version of Jokerman.

I wish Dylan had continued to work with this group. He really had something there. Sadly, they never worked together again.

See this piece in Vulture for a detailed history of how the union came to be.

See here for some background information on The Plugz. On this track, they sound more than a bit like Patti Smith.

The Plugz eventually morphed into The Cruzados.

See this thread for some interesting information (if accurate) from Holiday on the experience with Dylan. (do a find on “two months pass”). https://www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?boardid=41&threadid=77337

The drummer, Charlie Quintana, when to play for Social Distortion and also toured with Dylan in the early 90’s.

The guitarist, J.J. Holiday, played for a time with The Blues Brothers. This site (badly translated from Spanish) has an interview with him where he talks of his Dylan encounter.

Can you tell us about your meeting with Bob Dylan?
Tout came from a friend of mine, Charlie “Countana”, a drummer. At the time (1983), Dylan wanted to know what was going on, what was going on in terms of music. He hired a lot of musicians like us, who had different backgrounds. I liked these sessions. We played like that every day for a month, “jamming” (improvisation) sessions. It was a truly unique experience with a person like him! We talked, we had a coffee, we played… And finally, he asked us if we wanted to make a band with him, to be shown live on television! We said: okay! I think I was 23 at the time. We went there and we played. We had jammed a lot, but never really played songs with him (or only half of one)! Arrived on the plateau,we had to perform whole songs, it was very interesting! But we just did this gig with him. After that, he went on tour with Mick Taylor. I never saw him again. We were supposed to do a possible tour of South America, but it didn’t happen. Despite everything, he was very nice to me. He could see that I was having trouble with new styles of music, with open chords. He knew a lot about it. Probably more than you think.

Interesting story.

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