This is a sample from the new book BOB DYLAN THROUGH TIME
NOTE: I know Byron refers to Robbie Robertson and "Robinson" but I wanted to keep his account exactly to his words.
Do you recall how you ended up getting the job to help Dylan on the soundtrack?
I don't recall who called about the session. Probably someone who contracted the musicians for the film.
Do you remember the first time you met Bob Dylan?
First time I saw and met Bob was at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. I was standing on the side of the stage when I heard all of this commotion and booing. You know the rest of the story.
What was the atmosphere like in the studio recording for the soundtrack?
The recording was at a big studio, Warner Bros... I am not sure. Anyway, I knew Roger McGuin and Bruce Langhorne as they played on the first cut I did with them. These guys had already gone over the tune Turkey Chase before I got there so I had to learn it on the spot. Not much was said while working it up. I was just trying to find something that fit and sounded good. As far as the atmosphere to me it was just like most recordings; sit down and try to work it up as fast as you can because everything is on a schedule as there are many other musicians and singers waiting their turn. We all sat around in a circle when we recorded the instrumental Turkey Chase. Oh yes, at the same time we were watching the cut of the turkey chase that was in the film. Big sound stages and studios all had the big screen running the film where music was needed. So, pretty much straight ahead business as far as that part went. Sam Peckinpah was there also and he seemed a little out there. Being the director of the film he was of course checking everything out.
What were some of the most fun moments for you?
I did two tracks on the film, and of course Turkey Chase featured me on the fiddle, but after we recorded Turkey Chase Bob asked me if I could sing, and I said 'well yes everyone can, it just depends on how good a singer you want.' Anyway he wanted me to sing background vocals with a couple of other gals on Knockin' On Heavens Door. Who knew then where this song would go? I do remember feeling honoured that he asked me to sing with him.
What did you think of the whole thing when it was done, the sound and everything?
I thought everything sounded good when it was mixed and in the movie and LP recording. I have recorded with so many different folks from Elton John, Rod Stewart, Rolling Stones... they all are unique in there own way. Each was a different experience.
Any cool Bob stories?
Okay, last but not least, I must tell you two stories involving Bob. Sometime after the movie and the record came out, Bob told me he was travelling through New Mexico on his way to LA and stopped to get fuel. When he went in to pay for the gas, the man working there looked at him and said 'You're Bob Dylan aren't you?' and Bob said yes. The man said 'we play your record all the time on the juke box here... that Turkey Chase is great!' That was on the back side of Knockin' On Heaven's Door. Pretty funny.
Next encounter was around 1975 or so and this took place at the famous Palomino Club in North Hollywood. Bill Monroe and his band were playing there and I always went to see Bill when he played in S. Calif. So, I went into the club and went to the far back part of the room where it was sort of dark just standing there listening and I heard someone say Hey Byron. I looked around and it was Robbie Robinson and Bob Dylan. I asked them what they were doing there because it just surprised me to see them both at a Bill Monroe show. Robbie said Bob was interested in learning the mandolin. So, they thought they should come and see Bill who is the ultimate mandolin player I guess. So I asked Bob if he had ever met Bill and he said no. So I asked him if he would like to meet him and Bob said yes. I said Bill will walk right by here on his way to the dressing room when he finishes his first set and I will take you guys back there to meet him. Great! Bill and the boys finished their set and we followed Bill back to the dressing room. Bill was standing there and hadn't taken off his mandolin yet when I introduced them to Bill. I first said, Bill this is Robbie Robinson of The Band and this is Bob Dylan. Bill said 'is that right?' Well before he said anything else he said 'Bob let's sing a song how about I Saw The Light.' Of course Bob didn't know that or too many gospel songs at that time. Anyway, Bill started singing and wanted Bob to sing on the chorus. Bob wasn't singing and Bill looked at him and said 'you can do better than that, let's try it again.' Robbie and I looked at each other and thought 'oh my, this isn't going too well', so when it came around for the chorus Robbie and I chimed in singing along with Bob mumbling the words. After we finished Bill hit me in the shoulder and said 'Now I can say I sang tenor to Bob Dylan' and turned around and walked off. Poor Bob, I don't think he knew what hit him. I thought it was a great moment, at least for me, to watch all of that going down.
GET THE BOOK ON PAPERBACK: