Bob Dylan has hit back at reports suggesting Chinese and Vietnamese governments vetted the sets of his recent concerts in the Far East, insisting he wasn't told what he could and couldn't play.
Clearly angered by media speculation back home in America, Bob Dylan has taken to his website to make it clear he did not allow fussy culture bosses to censor his set list.
Reports suggested he agreed to only sing approved songs before taking to the stage for his first concerts in China and Vietnam last month, April 6, dropping classic peace anthems like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" so as not to offend the nations' Communist regime.
But Dylan insists the stories are not true and the criticism aimed at him is unfair.
In his online letter to "followers and fans", he writes, "The Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There's no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play."
The folk rock icon, who turns 70 later this month, also fires off at claims his Chinese shows were poorly attended, adding, "According to Mojo magazine, the concerts were attended mostly by ex-pats and there were a lot of empty seats. Not true. If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any. The ex-pats were mostly in Hong Kong not Beijing. Out of 13,000 seats we sold about 12,000 of them, and the rest of the tickets were given away to orphanages."
And Dylan has also taken issue with false reporting of a story suggesting he was initially denied permission to play in China.
He states, "This was all drummed up by a Chinese promoter who was trying to get me to come there after playing Japan and Korea. My guess is that the guy printed up tickets and made promises to certain groups without any agreements being made. We had no intention of playing China at that time, and when it didn't happen most likely the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for me to play there to get himself off the hook."
"If anybody had bothered to check with the Chinese authorities, it would have been clear that the Chinese authorities were unaware of the whole thing."