Monday, May 3, 2021

St. Louis County Announces a Year of Dylan to Honor Minnesota's Native Son

It's official. Tonight the St. Louis County Board is set to formally proclaim the Year of Dylan, celebrating the 80th birthday of Duluth and Hibbing's native son. The year will officially begin on Bob Dylan's 80th birthday May 24 and run through to his 81st birthday in 2022.

In addition to May 24 being the day Robert Allen Zimmerman was born 80 years ago at St. Mary's Hospital here in Duluth, there are numerous other significant or interesting milestones to be celebrated and appreciated this year. 

75 years ago Bob attended Nettleton School Kindergarten two blocks West through the alley. (Fall 1946- Spring 47, after which the Zimmerman family moved to Hibbing.) 

65 years ago he attended B.J. Rolfson's poetry class at Hibbing High School. Bob would sit in the front row that year.

December 24, 1956 -- Bob, Larry Kegan and Howie Rutman record a 78 rpm record at Terlinde Music, St. Paul. (Bob had met Larry and Louie Kemp in 1953 at Herzl Camp in Webster, Wisc.)

60 years ago (1961-62) at age 20, recorded his first solo album: Bob Dylan.

55 years ago (1966-67) Blonde On Blonde released (June 20, '66), the third in a trilogy of incomparable albums beginning with Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. First rock double album. His first "Greatest Hits" album released in March 1967.

50 years ago (August 1971) Dylan joins his friend George Harrison and others in the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden. The response of fans is probably a contributing factor in his decision to later return to touring.

45 years ago (May 25, 1976) Dylan completes the epic Rolling Thunder Revue, a circus like concert tour produced by his friend of 20 years, Louie Kemp, with a rotating cast of stars and characters in a memorable phenomenon that generated books, movies and CDs.

30 years ago  (1991-92) KUMD launches "Highway 61 Revisited" in October, a radio program dedicated to the music of Bob Dylan. The show would eventually become a catalyst for the emergence of a strong fan base among a new generation of listeners.

25 years ago (1996-97) Dylan records Time Out of Mind in the spring of 1997. The comeback album, produced by Jack Frost, would win him a Grammy. While giving his acceptance speech he acknowledge the influence of Buddy Holly. "He was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way."

20 years ago (2001-02) Dylan's follow up album is released on 9/11. His good friend from his youth, Larry Kegan dies of a heart attack.

15 years ago (2006-07) Modern Times is released, 8-29-06. Dylan becomes, at that time, the oldest living person to have an album enter Billboard charts at No. 1.

That same year, 2006, Bob Dylan Way is designated & recognized in Duluth.

10 years ago (2011-12) at age 70 Tempest is recorded, raising questions about whether this was to be his last studio album because Shakespeare's last play was Tempest. A song on this album titled "Scarlet Town" includes the line "where I was born," leading some to hypothesize whether this is an autobiographical tale of Duluth-Hibbing, cities made wealthy by the red earth iron ore industry.

5 years ago (2016-17) Dylan is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, December 2016. On December 10, Governor Mark Dayton flies to Hibbing to make a declaration that December 10 would officially be Bob Dylan Day in Minnesota. The ceremony took place on the same stage of the Hibbing High School auditorium where young Bobby performed with his Shadow Blasters and a year later with the Golden Chords. (On both occasions the principal famously pulled the plug.)

May 24, 2021 to May 24, 2022: St. Louis County declares a Year of Dylan.
In Tulsa the Bob Dylan Center celebrates Dylan's 80th birthday with a  virtual 3-day symposium attended by scholars and fans from around the world. 

* * * 

The Year of Dylan would not have been possible without a coalition of partners including the Duluth Dylan Fest, the Hibbing Dylan Project, tourism partners Visit Duluth, Iron RangeTourism, Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Discovery Center.

A special shout out to the St. Louis County Board which will be issuing a proclamation tonight marking May 24 as the commencement for this Year of Dylan.

Throughout the coming year a variety of Dylan-esque events will take place, beginning with a ground-breaking at Hibbing High School for the Dylan Monument, with music afterwards at Dylan's boyhood home in Hibbing.

Duluth Dylan Fest will run from May 22-30. In addition, one of the Mesabi Trails 2021 Bike Tours will be Dylan-themed with music and the unveiling of a special addition to the trail near Hibbing.

The Minnesota Discovery Center is also planning a Dylan-themed concert in August. Bothe the Hibbing Dylan Project and Duluth Dylan Fest will announce additional events. throughout the year.

Organizations of businesses interested in planning or hosting a Year of Dylan event of activity can email the Year of Dylan committee at or visit the Year of Dylan page on the Duluth Dylan Fest website ( Year of Dylan Advisory Committee Member Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the Minnesota Discovery Center, states, "We are excited to see what ideas our local businesses and organizations have to help celebrate the Year of Dylan."


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