The Great White Wonder & Other Bootlegs

We spoke to Jerry Weber of Jerry’s Records about the Great White Wonder, which is the first major bootleg to appear in the record scene, and asked him to share his expertise. We were lucky enough to stop by while a friend of Jerry’s was visiting.

Dale Nolting is the biggest collector of bootleg vinyl in Pittsburgh, and he’s been collecting for over fifty years. Together, Jerry and Dale have more than eighty years of listening to bootlegs, so they could definitely be called experts.

The Great White Wonder was “the first one that really got things going,” says Dale. Collected from a variety of sources, The Great White Wonder contained unreleased studio takes, and “basement tapes” from a session with The Band, and some live material. “It’s the most famous ones, and its one of the best ones. Its almost studio quality. That’s why it became legendary. It’s Dylan at his height, stuff he never did anywhere else. It was like gold,” says Jerry.

The Great White Wonder sparked interest in a bootleg called The Masked Marauders. In 1969 Rolling Stone ran a review of the album, which was supposedly a jam session between Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. But it was actually just a big joke put on by Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone had hired a band to record this album, and it sold more than one hundred thousand copies. The Masked Marauders was practically legendary by the time it hit record store shelves, and remained in the Billboard Top 100 for 12 weeks following its release. 

In many ways, bootleg collectors are some of the most die hard collectors out there. Jerry says, “It’s a whole different strata of collectors that collect bootlegs. But they want something that nobody else has, like every record collector, but they have everything that’s been put out legally, but its not enough. If you’re a Dylan guy or a Beatles guy, you want something else.” 

Jerry says that if you’re interested in obtaining some classic bootlegs, your best bet is to go to a record show.