Bob Dylan, Bristol 1966
image above: May 10, 1966 Bristol Colston Hall - Bob Dylan stares out the window of his limo during a rainy day in Bristol, England in early May 1966.
In September 1960, Bob Dylan borrowed a copy of Woody Guthrie's autobiography Bound for Glory from a college classmate and became obsessed. Written with the encouragement of Alan Lomax and published in 1943, it rendered its protagonist an almost mythical figure. Dylan started mimicking his hero's speech patterns and even told the crowd at the Cafe Wha? when he arrived in New York for the first time the following January: "I been travellin' around the country, followin' in Woody Guthrie's footsteps."
The "dust bowl troubadour" – author of this This Land is Your Land, whose guitar bore the legend "this machine kills fascists" – had himself almost reached the end of the road: he was now in his fourth year at the Greystone Park Psychiatric hospital in New Jersey, suffering from Huntingdon's disease, which finally led to his death in 1967. But Dylan hunted him out there, and the two men met – Guthrie apparently giving Dylan a card after their first meeting saying: "I ain't dead yet." Dylan wrote, and played to his idol, a new piece of his own called Song to Woody. It met with the older man's approval and was one of only two original compositions that made Dylan's 1962 debut.
When Bob Dylan, who idolized Guthrie and whose early folk career was deeply inspired by him, learned that Guthrie was hospitalized in Brooklyn, he was determined to meet his idol. By this time, Guthrie was said to have his "good days" and "bad days". On the good days, Dylan would sing songs to him, and at the beginning Guthrie seemed to warm to Dylan. When the bad days came, Guthrie would berate Dylan. Reportedly on Dylan's last visit, Guthrie didn't recognize him. Dylan said that he made his trek to New York City primarily to seek out his idol.
At the end of his life, Guthrie was largely alone except for family. Due to the progression of Huntington's, he was difficult to be around. Guthrie's illness was essentially untreated, due to a lack of information about the disease. His death helped raise awareness of the disease and led Marjorie to help found the Committee to Combat Huntington's Disease, which became the Huntington's Disease Society of America. None of Guthrie's three remaining children with Marjorie has developed symptoms of Huntington's. Two of Mary Guthrie's children (Gwendolyn and Sue) suffered from the disease. (Her son Bill died in an auto-train accident in Pomona, California, at age 23.) Both died at 41 years of age.
In a business where youth is supposed to be a big deal, someone's 70th birthday might be a surprising thing for the world to go crazy about. But Bob Dylan is - and always has been - a special case, ever since he first picked up a guitar and began pouring out songs way back in 1962.
The Greatest Songwriter Ever is still doing his stuff, right down to winning an Oscar.
•His real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman
•He has released over 40 albums since his 1962 debut, just called Bob Dylan
•Dylan won an Oscar last year for his song Things Have Changed, which was used in the film Wonder Boys
•The only song Dylan has recorded this year is a cover of a Dean Martin song on the soundtrack of the hit US gangster series The Sopranos
•Dylan had a part in the classic 1970s Western Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, playing a knife-throwing drifter with the mysterious name Alias
•In 1966 he almost died after crashing his motorbike near his Woodstock home
•Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, but grew up in nearby Hibbing - which was also the birthplace of America's famous Greyhound bus company
•In 1965, he made one of the first ever promo films, for Subterranean Homesick Blues, which included a cameo by top American poet Allen Ginsberg
•His son Jakob is also in the music business with his band The Wallflowers
•Key Dylan albums include Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, Blood On The Tracks and Time Out Of Mind
•Dylan's long marriage to Sara Lowndes inspired some of the finest songs about love and loss ever. He was also married to Carol Dennis between 1986 and 1992
•He has five children - Jesse, Anna, Samuel and Jakob with Sara, and Desiree (now 15) with Carol Dennis
•He was the first songwriter to write serious lyrics about his own life and world - paving the way for everyone else who followed
•Dylan has written around 450 songs since 1962
•One of the first music movies was the 1965 documentary Don't Look Back, which followed Dylan on his 1965 tour of Britain.
Bob Dylan started his radio broadcasting career in the USA in May 2006 with a weekly radio show on XM Satellite Radio, the leading satellite radio service in the US.
"A lot of my own songs have been played on the radio, but this is the first time I've ever been on the other side of the mic", said Dylan of his shows.
Theme Time Radio Hour With Bob Dylan features an eclectic mix of music hand-picked by Dylan. The radio shows also include interviews and commentary on music and other topics.
Themes for the show include 'weather' with a tracklist featuring, for example, A Place In The Sun sung in Italian by Stevie Wonder, The Wind Cries Mary by Jimi Hendrix and Keep On The Sunny Side by The Carter Family. Song list themes for other shows include 'cars', 'dance', 'police', and 'whiskey'.
@Barry Feinstein Collection