Bob Dylan helped solve a daring bank heist in 1973. Is there anything this man can’t do?
Dylan’s hitherto unheralded feat occurred in Hawaii, although he didn’t need to set foot in the Aloha State. The crime occurred on December 18, 1973, when the 15th episode of Season 6 of Hawaii Five-O aired on CBS. The plot of “The Flip Side is Death” revolved around a gang of thieves who had hatched a brilliant plan to rob a bank and hide the loot in empty 8-track cassettes. Unfortunately they didn’t count on Five-O detective Dan “Danno” Williams (played by James MacArthur), whose brilliant memory helped bring the perps to justice.
While searching a Dodge 100 pineapple delivery van, Williams stumbled upon a stash of 8-tracks. He gave a cursory inspection to three of them, but seemed more interested in a fourth one. This one bore the serene, bearded face of Bob Dylan on the front. It was the cover of his 1970 album New Morning.
I’d like to think “Danno” was a Dylan fan, or was wondering why a pineapple cannery worker would own a Dylan record. But no, it seems he was attracted to the corporate name on the back, Walker Music Company. In a nutshell, a man named Walker had popped up in their investigations, and Williams quickly deduced the illicit utility of the cases after destroying — gasp! — the Dylan 8-track. (8-tracks, by the way, quickly fell out of vogue by the end of the 1970s. You can buy them on eBay, if you must.)
Walker Music is, of course, a fictional label. A closer look at the back indicates the name was pasted over the Columbia Records logo. The catalog number remains the same, CA 30290. Columbia was owned by CBS at the time. I assume the show’s producers needed some props, so the label sent over a box of old product. Dylan had just left Columbia, so it was nice of the CBS folks to give him a few seconds of free publicity.
The only other Columbia artist who got spotlighted was Santana. Earlier in the show, a uniformed cop (uncredited) searched the same vehicle and pulled out a copy of the band’s second album Abraxas, also from 1970. “Good group,” the beaming cop said to the bad guy sweating bullets.
Since you got this far, here’s the famous opening sequence (x5)
NOTE: If you enjoyed this breathtaking piece of investigative journalism, try my gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles, available here. For more info, go to strangedaysbook.com
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