Bob Dylan’s first visit to the UK, London (The Coldest Winter – December 17, 1962 ?)

Bob Dylan’s first visit to the UK, London 

The Madhouse bob dylan 1962

1- Madhouse on Castle Street

“Twelve days later, Dylan made his first trip abroad. British TV director Philip Saville had heard Dylan perform in Greenwich Village, and invited him to take part in a BBC television drama: Madhouse on Castle Street. Dylan arrived in London on December 17. In the play, Dylan performed “Blowin’ in the Wind” and two other songs. Dylan also immersed himself in the London folk scene, making contact with the Troubadour folk club organizer Anthea Joseph and folksingers Martin Carthy and Bob Davenport. “I ran into some people in England who really knew those [traditional English] songs,” Dylan recalled in 1984. “Martin Carthy, another guy named [Bob] Davenport. Martin Carthy’s incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin”


Dylan in the Madhouse

Remarkably, Bob Dylan first visited Britain to take part in a BBC play.

It was the coldest winter on record: Britain was frosty and grey. Millions of milk bottles were buried in snow drifts, Cliff was number one, and there were two TV channels and three radio stations (all BBC).

This was the world a 21-year-old Bob Dylan entered when he visited London for the first time in December 1962, having never left America before

Dylan had been spotted playing in a Greenwich Village club by enfant terrible TV director Philip Saville. Saville felt he’d be perfect for the part of Lennie, the rebellious young lead in a high-profile BBC drama, Madhouse on Castle Street.

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2- The Troubadour, London

Troubadour bob dylan 1962

Bob Dylan – Christmas 1962  performing under the name Blind Boy Grunt.(Wiki)

“Grossman was already in London, along with the singer Odetta, and saw Dylan put up in the raffish Mayfair Hotel near Berkeley Square. That first evening, the singer set about exploring the network of London folk clubs, visiting a different one almost every evening for two weeks: Bunjies Coffee House, possibly the Establishment and Les Cousins, certainly the Roundhouse and the celebrated Troubadour on Cromwell Road, where he headed after a tip-off from the American folk revivalist Pete Seeger.”

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3- King and Queen pub

He performed at the King and Queen pub in London’s west end.

Bob Dylan's first visit to the UK, London

it was a Friday, I’m singing a song at the King and Queen and I look out into the audience and I see this Sing Out! cover sitting in front of me,’ he remembers.’ I finished a couple of songs, walked over to him and said, “You’re Bob Dylan”.’ Carthy asked him to sing. ‘We carried on with the evening for about 20 minutes and he just looked up at me from the audience and nodded, so I called him up.’


The King & Queen’s function room is home to a regular folk club, and has something of a reputation in this field – in 1962 Bob Dylan played his first gig outside of the United States in our function room, an event that was voted one of the most important gigs of all time by Time Out magazine.

Bob Dylan picture, King & Queen Pub, London

 “American music legend – Bob Dylan – first ever London and European appearance at the King and Queen pub, Foley Street, Fitzrovia. The King and Queen is a traditional small English pub, just a five minute walk from the school and a place where SGI regularly holds student quiz nights and social events in the upstairs room”

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“The chap in the Troubadour said that he thinks that Bobby played in there on the 29th December, and Bjorner seems to back that up, though the chap said that his gig there was categorically the first in the UK.

– This link from the Telegraph ; – says that this was the place, hence the official blue plaque ceremony only this was on the 22nd December – at the Water Rats, previously known as the Pindar of Wakefield, at which he performed at the ‘Singer’s club’ which was a traditionalist evening as Howard Sounes mentions in ‘Down the Highway’, pg.159, who also has it down as the 22nd December.


– Thirdly, and finally, a chap in the comments section from the link above, I know right; and he says that he in fact played at the King and Queen pub on the 21st December, and another website seems to agree; – though Bjorner has this date down as the 23rd.” 

here is a Discussion about this topic on



4- Singers Club

Bob Dylan performs at the Singers Club Christmas Party in London on December 22nd, 1962.

December 22, 1962 – Bob Dylan performs at London’s Singers Club
December 22, 1962 – Bob Dylan performs at London’s Singers Club

Not all the luminaries on the scene could appreciate Dylan for what he was, however. Even Peggy Seeger was oblivious when she first saw him play, and she remained unimpressed. ‘We were on stage at the Pindar of Wakefield,’ she remembers. She and her partner, Ewan MacColl (whose songs include ‘Dirty Old Town’ and ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’), ran the Singers Club night there. ‘Somebody’s whispered, “Bob Dylan’s here”, and I seem to remember saying, “Who is Bob Dylan?”

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Brits and Bobs: Bob Dylan in the British Isles






Here  Dylan’s first visit to London Photographs

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