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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Twenty-six years ago today - 1981 - was publication day for the simultaneous hardback and paperback of the UK edition of The Art of Bob Dylan: Song & Dance Man. It was published by Hamlyns, and was, nine years after the first version, the updated 2nd edition of my study of Bob Dylan's work. At the time I had come in from the cold of freelancing, had worked for United Artists Records for two years and then been asked to become Gerry Rafferty's manager. He'd been burned by heavy American management when he was in Stealer's Wheel, and wanted someone unheavy and unAmerican (though being very Scottish, he wasn't overly impressed by my Englishness), to fend off a music biz over-excited by the sudden success of 'Baker Street'.

My job was essentially to say no to things on his behalf. This made management of a rock star who'd just sold four and a half million albums somewhat less glamorous than it might have been. Gerry was especially keen not to tour the USA.

This meant that I was in London when Bob Dylan came over for his 1981 stint at Earl's Court, and this coincided with publication of my book. And walking towards the hall one night I saw that a whole window of the local branch of mega-bookshop W.H.Smith's was filled with a display for the book. I don't think my royalties ever reflected a commensurate surge in sales - but since the Rafferty job meant that this was the only point in my life when I was lavishly paid, it didn't matter at the time. When Gerry and I parted company that same year and I went back to the freelance writer's life, it started to matter more. Certainly the demanding monster that was my ailing 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible - white with red upholstery - had to go. (Actually, it's basic problem was that so very often it didn't...)

In the US, St.Martin's Press published the simultaneous hardback and paperback of The Art of Bob Dylan: Song & Dance Man in 1982.


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