Happy 72nd birthday, Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan – then Bobby Zimmerman – as a sophomore in the Hibbing High School yearbook, circa 1957. (News-Tribune file photo)

Today, May 24, 2013, is the 72nd birthday of Northland native and music icon Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth in 1941 and raised on the Iron Range, in Hibbing.

Two years ago, on the occasion of Dylan’s 70th birthday, I posted a collection of text and photos of Dylan from the News Tribune files. If you have not yet seen that – or even if you have – you can find the post here.

Photos of Paul Wellstone in the Northland

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the plane crash near Eveleth that took the life of U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), his wife Sheila, and six others. Read the News Tribune’s coverage of the anniversary here.

Here’s a selection of News Tribune file photos from Wellstone’s many trips to the Northland, leading up to his election to the Senate in 1990 and in the years that followed:

Democrat Paul Wellstone ratchets up his U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Republican Rudy Boschwitz during a stop at the Duluth Labor Temple on June 9, 1989. (John Rott / News-Tribune)

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Senator-elect Paul Wellstone reacts to the approval of the crowd during a standing-room-only town hall meeting at the Marshall School cafeteria in Duluth on Dec. 5, 1990. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)

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As Sen. Paul Wellstone jokes with locals at Maggie’s, a popular restaurant in Nashwauk, on April 5, 1991, owner Margaret Breuling looks on and smiles. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone greets people who gathered for the opening of his office in Virginia, Minn., on April 5, 1991. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., speaks at a rally at the Duluth Labor Temple on London Road on April 13, 1991. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone answers questions from the audience during a meeting about health-care issues on Feb. 13, 1992, at Duluth Central High School. (Clara Wu / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone addresses DFL delegates from across Minnesota on June 5, 1992, the first day of the state DFL convention at the DECC, Interpreting was Kim Olson of Minneapolis. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

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Marilyn Pribyl of Chaska and Terry Selle of Bloomington listen as Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., pauses to chat with them during a stop at Grandma’s Restaurant in Duluth on Jan. 15, 1994. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone addresses a gathering of people in low-income situations during a news conference Nov. 21, 1995, at Emerson School in Duluth. The event was held to bring attention to the plight of low-income people in need of housing assistance. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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Aimee McIntyre (left) and Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., share a laugh during a rally for Wellstone at the Federal Building in Duluth on July 1, 1996. Supporters wore shirts with red targets and the words: “Proud to be a Republican Target.” (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone speaks to the crowd gathered at a rally at the DECC’s Pioneer Hall in Duluth on the morning of Oct. 23, 1996, as Vice President Al Gore applauds in the background. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone answers a question from a student in the audience during the Democracy in Action forum April 9, 1999, at the College of St. Scholastica. More than 600 students from the three high schools in Duluth attended the forum, which gave them an opportunity to challenge and ask questions of elected officals. Listening to Wellstone on stage are state Sen. Sam Solon and Duluth Mayor Gary Doty. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone speaks to a crowd of about 100 gathered Sunday at the entrance of ME International in Duluth on Oct. 31, 1999. Wellstone voiced his support of the United Steelworkers of America Local 1028 strike that has been in effect since August. (Renee Knoeber / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone visits Denfeld High School in Duluth on Nov. 16, 2000. (Rick Scibelli / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone meets with a full auditorium of Denfeld High School students on Nov. 16, 2000, at the school. Wellstone took questions and comments from students regarding the recent election and the issues surrounding it. (Rick Scibelli / News-Tribune)

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U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone greets members of the Duluth Denfeld singing groups Solid Gold and Steppin’ Up on Nov. 16, 2000, during a visit to the school. Wellstone engaged the students in a town hall-style meeting, discussing the previous week’s presidential election. (Rick Scibelli / News-Tribune)

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Sens. Paul Wellstone and Mark Dayton talk in Superior on March 9, 2001, with employees of Partridge River Inc., the company whose Hoyt Lakes plant was destroyed by fire earlier that month. The meeting took place at Partridge River’s Superior facility. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

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Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

Happy 70th birthday, Bob Dylan

Seventy years ago today, on Saturday, May 24, 1941, if you were walking the halls at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth you might have run into members of the Zimmerman family. They would have been there for the birth of Abe and Beatty Zimmerman’s first child, a son whose arrival was noted in the News-Tribune five days later:

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Today is Duluth native Robert Zimmerman’s 70th birthday. You know him better as Bob Dylan.

Dylan was featured in an Attic post back in November 2008 – a post that included the full text of a 1963 News-Tribune article that – introduced local readers to this local kid who was making it big in New York at the time. It’s a good read, if you hadn’t already seen it.

For this post, I’ve typed in an equally interesting News-Tribune & Herald article from June 29, 1986, when Dylan – in the Twin Cities for a concert at the Metrodome – agreed to an interview with reporter Bob Ashenmacher and spoke about his ties to the Northland.

One bit of background info… right before this interview the Duluth City Council voted to rename Harbor Drive to be Bob Dylan Drive, then reversed itself a few days later after public outcry against the idea…

DYLAN TALKS

His images of the North are faint but fond

By Bob Ashenmacher, News-Tribune & Herald

MINNEAPOLIS – Yes, Bob Dylan returns to his native northern Minnesota for visits.

No, he didn’t feel like an outcast in the days when he rode a motorcycle and had the plug pulled on his rock ‘n’ roll band at a Hibbing High School talent show.

And about last week’s short-lived Duluth City Council proposal to name a Duluth street after him, he’s puzzled and amused.

Dylan spoke freely about his youth on the Iron Range in a backstage conversation before his concert Thursday night in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He was born Robert Zimmerman 45 years ago in Duluth, and raised in Hibbing from age 6. He left after high school graduation in 1959.

Through more than 20 years in the forefront of American music, Dylan has granted interviews infrequently. More than once he has given brooding, elliptical responses rather than straightforward answers.

A different Dylan talked plainly Thursday night. He spoke to the News-Tribune & Herald primarily because of the efforts of a close friend of his who lives in Duluth. The friend said he wanted Dylan’s fondness for Duluth and the Range to become known.

Bob Dylan in concert at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, June 26, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

The backstage area was quiet. Dylan appeared from a room sectioned off by sheets hanging from the ceiling.

He wore the same outfit he would wear onstage, minus a leather vest: a blue sleeveless shirt, black leather pants with silver studs up the sides and Beatle boots. Close up, his eyes are very blue. His build is thin, almost slight. His handshake is dry, the grasp gentle.

The conversation was conducted sitting atop a musical instrument trunk in the room behind the sheet. Dylan eschewed small talk. He avoided direct eye contact at first and appeared uncomfortable, even irritable. When he began hearing some old names, remembering some old impressions, he seemed to begin enjoying himself.

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It’s surprising you wanted to talk to the Duluth newspaper. You’re not talking to any others now that this tour is under way.

“Don’t you want me to? I can go, I really can. I mean, I got things to do. I thought you wanted to speak to me.”

But is there something you wanted to say specifically to Duluth and the Iron Range?

“No, nothin’. Nothin’.” He paused, seemed to soften a bit. “It’s just really hard going, here, with all these one-night stands.”

Have you heard about this Bob Dylan Drive idea in Duluth?

“Yeah, I’ve heard about it.”

What do you think?

Pause. “I really don’t know what to think. I would think there’d be a lot of other people in Duluth they could name streets for.” He laughed a little. “I think everybody who was born there should have a street named for them.”

“I don’t remember much about Duluth, really, except, uh, the foghorns.” He plucked at one of the hanging sheets, glanced into an empty adjacent room. “That’s about it.”

Did you come down to Duluth from the Range much as a kid?

“I saw Buddy Holly there, actually. I saw a few bands in Duluth, but there weren’t that many clubs happening. People who played back then usually just did it in their house.”

Bob Dylan – then Bobby Zimmerman – as a sophomore in the Hibbing High School yearbook. (News-Tribune file photo)

Do you remember any musicians from the Range or Duluth?

“There was a guy who used to live in our duplex in Hibbing named Chuckie Solberg, who a few years ago was playing piano with (a national act). And some other people from Minnesota I remember. I run into people from Minnesota in the strangest places, actually.”

What was the Range music scene like when you were growing up?

“Back then it was mainly polka bands. If you went to a club it was more like a tavern scene, with a polka band. There was country music, too, that I remember. My girlfriend, Echo was her name – Echo Helstrom – her father played guitar.”

She lives in Los Angeles now. Do you ever hear from her?

He smiled. “I see her occasionally.”

Was she the “Girl from the North Country”?

He smiled wider and said: “Well, she’s a North Country girl through and through.” He laughed. It was a nice laugh. It sounded kind.

They say she was free-spirited.

“Mm hm, she was just like me. We’re both the same.”

Do you remember Bill Marinac (a childhood friend of Dylan’s)?

“He’s a string bass player. We played together. Charles Nara, he was our drummer. We had a good guitar player in that band, Monty Edwardson.”

People always wonder – do you ever come back?

“I do sometimes. In, you know, odd moments. When I’m passin’ through.”

Once a year, maybe?

“Up to the Range, there? No, I don’t get up there as often as that. Duluth, a little bit more often, but, you know, I haven’t spent any great amount of time there.”

Do you like that you can visit and have it be low-key, not a bunch of fans pestering you?

“Yeah. It’s nice when that happens.”

Robert Zimmerman – aka Bob Dylan – as he looked when he graduated from Hibbing High School in 1959. (News-Tribune file photo)

Local legend says that at the Hibbing High Jacket Jamboree someone cut the electricity on your band because you were so loud.

“Yeah, I wasn’t very popular when I was there.” He laughed. “I don’t remember that, but it could have happened.”

Did people sometimes not understand what you were doing?

“Nah, we were just the loudest band around, it was mostly that. What we were doing, there wasn’t anybody else around doing. (The music scene) was mostly horn kind of stuff, jazz – there was one other band in town with trumpet, bass, guitar and drums. Mostly that type of stuff. And you had to play polkas.”

Did you actually play polkas?

“Yeah. Oh, yeah.”

It seems in recent years you’re less guarded about discussing things like this.

“Well, nobody really asked me about it. Nobody much asks people where they came from or what they’re doing while they’re growing up, so…”

Bob Dylan performing in November 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

When you started to get successful in New York, did the national press romanticize your past in Minnesota?

“I don’t really know. I don’t know what they did.”

You didn’t read it?

“Um, I didn’t really keep up with it at all.”

Could you ever see having a summer home in northern Minnesota, out in the woods somewhere?

“Yeah.” He chuckled. “Who couldn’t imagine that?”

That’d be neat.

“It would be.”

Well, Kevin McHale does it.

“Yeah, I saw Kevin out there (at the concert) just now.”

There’s a great story about him seeing you at a Celtics game.

“He did, he came right out into the crowd and shook my hand. That was an amazing thing to do.”

Bob Dylan performing, circa 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

Do you ever listen to Garrison Keillor?

“A few years ago I used to listen to him. I like his show, I’ve always liked it.”

Does it ever make you homesick for Minnesota?

“Well, ah… yeah, it does. Well, I don’t get homesick for those kind of things he talkin’ about because, ah, I don’t know if my upbringing was like that. But I get homesick for where it all happened.”

Everyone says it was a very warm home you and your brother, David, were brought up in.

“Well, we had a big family, like a big extended family. My grandmother had about 17 kids on the one side, and on the other side about 13 kids. So there was always a lot of family-type people around.

Were you kind of an outcast when you were growing up? That’s part of the myth.

“I couldn’t really say.” He laughed. “To me, I was perfectly right.”

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Bob Dylan in concert at the Metrodome, June 27, 1986. (John Rott / News-Tribune & Herald)

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Share your memories of Bob Dylan – or Bobby Zimmerman – by posting a comment.

For questions and comments on this post or about the blog, send an e-mail to akrueger@duluthnews.com.

Kevin McHale

Hibbing native Kevin McHale played basketball at all levels, including the University of Minnesota and in the NBA with the Boston Celtics during the 1980s and early 1990s. He later became a front office member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, including a stint as coach. Here are some notable encounters for McHale.

Dave Nevanen/copy editor

Bob Zbasnik tries to guard Kevin McHale. 1978 / Duluth News Tribune

Bill Walton (left) makes a point to Kevin McHale when the Celtics were playing in the NBA Championship in 1986. Associated Press

Kevin McHale collars Kurt Rambis of the Lakers during the 1984 NBA playoffs. Ironically, Rambis replaced McHale as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009. Associated Press

Detroit Pistons’ Dennis Rodman (center) reels backward after Kevin McHale (left) of the Celtics hit him in the neck in 1991. Looking on is Larry Bird. Associated Press

Kevin McHale (right) made a cameo appearance on the NBC comedy "Cheers" in 1990. Bartender Sam Malone (Ted Danson, left) tried to convince McHale of the Celtics to play for Cheers in a basketball game against a rival tavern. Photo by NBC