Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour does not have a concert scheduled for Tuesday. So he won't be celebrating his 70th birthday onstage. What will he do?
A friend of Dylan since they attended camp together as pre-teens, St. Paul businessman Dick Cohn has witnessed some Dylan birthdays. When the Minnesota icon turned 50, Cohn shared his mother's advice with Dylan. "She told me that once you turn 50, you stop telling people your age. Bob said, 'That's easy for you. When I turned 50, my picture was on the cover of Time magazine.'"
A snapshot from that day captured Dylan's face aglow -- just like any other birthday boy -- blowing out the candles on a cake provided by a friend. Cohn doesn't know what Dylan will be doing Tuesday, but we asked some other music stars to celebrate his 70th with a favorite Dylan story or a reflection on his career.
Encounters with Bob Dylan:
Guitarist of The Band, he toured with Dylan in 1966 in his first electric band, and again in 1974.
"The first time we toured with him, everybody booed and threw stuff at us. I have to give him a lot of credit for not bowing to the pressure. The next time we did it, everybody cheered and said they knew it all along. We didn't change a thing, but the world revolved and the world changed. And I thought: 'That's an interesting experiment in terror.'"
She opened for him in the mid-1990s and he later gave her a then-unrecorded song, "Mississippi."
"The power went out on us onstage and I was in the middle of 'Leaving Las Vegas' so I continued to sing it at the top of my lungs so people could still hear me. He was standing on the side of the stage. The next night he called me into his dressing room beforehand and said, 'I watched you. I believe you've got something. I'm always available if you ever need any advice about the business or anything else.' And he's been very consistent from that point on. Every time I see him, he's been a very dear friend and I've reached out to him on a couple occasions about what I'm doing and what direction I'm going."
He played keyboards on Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" (1965) and "Blonde on Blonde" (1966).
"'Highway 61' was like a proto-punk album because no one acted as a producer, per se, or music director -- plus Dylan's attitude, musically and singing-wise. When we went to Nashville (to record "Blonde") it was the opposite. He brought me along to play and as music director. The musicians were the best players in town but they didn't know much about Bob Dylan; he was off their radar.
"Bob was still writing the lyrics when he came to town. He taught me the song, then I'd play it over and over again on the piano and he'd sit there and write lyrics. The sessions were incredibly long. He'd take a break and still be writing lyrics -- maybe for sometimes five hours without budging from the piano -- and (the musicians) would play ping-pong, watch television, eat. And when he was ready, we'd go in and cut it."
She met Dylan in the late 1970s at New York's Gerdes Folk City club when she was starting out.
"I was asked to sit in and do a couple of songs. Dylan was sitting at the bar with this tall, beautiful black woman. I didn't realize he was in there. (The owner) said to me, 'I want you to meet a friend of mine.' And I turned around and he said (Italian accent), 'This is a-Bobby.' And it's still not registering. "Bobby a-Dylan.' I put out my hand. He leaned over and said, 'Keep in touch. We're going to be going on the road soon.'"
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