Bob Dylan Met John Wayne on a Battleship in Hawaii in 1966: ‘He Was Friendly to Me’

Bob Dylan usually lets his music speak for him, and he did just that during his first meeting with actor John Wayne. When two of pop culture’s biggest icons met, Dylan played some music, and Wayne did a bit of acting. It was an ordinary day of work.

However, it’s incredible when you think about it, especially since Dylan and Wayne were worlds apart in show business and expressed very different beliefs.

Bob Dylan in black in 1966, and John Wayne in a cowboy costume on the set of 'El Dorado' in 1966.
(L-R) Bob Dylan and John Wayne | Express Newspapers/Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Bob Dylan met John Wayne in 1966

In an interview featured on his website, Dylan talked about meeting The Duke himself.

“Pretty good, actually,” Dylan said of how the two got on with each other. “The Duke, I met him on a battleship in Hawaii where he was filming a movie, he and Burgess Meredith. One of my former girlfriends was in the movie too, and she told me to come over there; she introduced me to him, and he asked me to play some folk songs.

“I played him ‘Buffalo Skinners,’ ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy,’ and I think ‘I’m a Rambler, I’m a Gambler.’ He told me if I wanted to, I could stick around and be in the movie. He was friendly to me.”

Dylan and Wayne more than likely had similar music tastes. However, they didn’t have much else in common.

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Dylan and Wayne had very different beliefs

The pair might not have known it when they met on that battleship in 1966, but Dylan and Wayne had very dissimilar tenets.

Dylan has used his music to protest things he disagreed with throughout his career. In fact, the musician became heavily involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. On the other hand, Wayne expressed different views on race.

In 1971, Wayne made controversial comments to Playboy (per Variety). He said he did not “feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago, these people were slaves” about Black people.

“I believe in white supremacy until the Blacks are educated to a point of responsibility,” Wayne said. “I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

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Dylan didn’t name any of Wayne’s films as his favorite

Growing up, Dylan loved watching TV like any other kid. When the Dylan family got a TV, the singer was 14 or 15 years old. However, Dylan didn’t name any of Wayne’s films as his favorites to watch.

“I was about 14 or 15 when we got one, my dad put it in the basement,” Dylan said in the same interview featured on his website. “It came on at 3:00 and went off at 9, most of the other time it showed a test pattern, some kind of weird circular symbol.

“The reception wasn’t that good, there was a lot of snow on the screen, and you always had to adjust the antenna to get anything to come in. I liked everything I saw – Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Highway PatrolFather Knows Best.

“There were theater dramas, too, like Studio OneFireside Theatre. Quiz shows, too – Beat the ClockTo Tell the TruthQueen for a Day, they were all good. There was one called You Are There with Walter Cronkite, The Twilight Zone, there were a bunch of them.”

Dylan also loved watching I Love Lucy, “all the time, non-stop.” Still, Dylan may or may not have watched Wayne’s films. He enjoyed their meeting, but it’s safe to say he probably wasn’t chopping at the bits to meet the actor again after finding out about Wayne’s racist comments.

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