Dylans Open

There's a story that rocker Al Cooper tells about some accidental genius that catapulted his career in the mid-1960s. Cooper had been an average guitar player and singer as one of the creative forces behind The Blues Project, one of the first American bands to bring blues to the rock audience. When he was invited to accompany Bob Dylan in recording Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan's first plugged-in recording, Cooper naturally brought his guitar to the session. During the recording of Dylan's classic, "Like a Rolling Stone," when the great guitar player Mike Bloomfield, also invited to the session, sat down to play, an accident of sorts occurred in the recording studio that led to an unexpected birth of genius.

Feeling a bit outclassed by Bloomfield's superior guitar playing, a self-conscious Cooper put down his own guitar and slid behind the electric organ, which he barely knew how to play, hoping he could blend in by simply throwing in a few chords occasionally.

After the first couple of takes, the recording engineer pulled Dylan into the listening suite and pointed out the strange sounds coming from Cooper trying to fake his way through the song on organ. Dylan, on hearing an organ played like he had never heard it played before, proceeded to ask the engineer to bring the instrument up in the mix, thus giving his first electric hit the unique organ sound that became its signature.

Cooper later went on to enjoy an illustrious career as an organist with a sound that was far from conventional. He then got offers to be a studio musician on the organ. Cooper credits the strange circumstances of that first recording session and Bob Dylan's open mind for discovering his accidental genius.

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