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Comrades From The North

Welcome back once more and here we are in a new year with all of the hopes, dreams and fears that every new year brings. We hope that all of our subscribers have the best year possible. As this issue hits your doormats, Dylan will be once more engaged in his staple diet of touring. This time around he is doing the rounds of Continental Europe with significant stints in Spain, Italy and Germany. We hope that those of you who can make a show or two enjoy them and that there may be one or two sonic surprises along the way. Mind you there can be a very great difference in the experience of seeing a Dylan show depending upon the venue (true of any act of course). If itís an arena show then the likelihood is that the experience will be a poorer one compared to a smaller hall. Most arenas that we have visited have poor acoustics, poor lines of sight, very noisy crowds and require the use of binoculars to discern the figures on stage if one is seated beyond the first few rows. For which one is charged a fortune and subjected to extortionate prices for food and drink. Weíll never forget last yearís show at the Liverpool Arena where one party, sat in the row in front, were content to talk to each other throughout Dylanís set (in between visiting the toilets several times), barely watched the show and left early!! In fact Dylan is the only act which would persuade your editors to cross the portals of such stadiums of the damned from now on. Compare and contrast that to the wonderful bowels of the London Palladium, or the Blackpool Winter Gardens, the Liverpool Empire- need we go on?

Last year was a bad one in terms of the number of souls who played some part in the Dylan story passing away. This year has already seen the sad deaths of Echo Helstrom and Mickey Jones. Echo Helstrom died on 18th January aged 75. She has been described as Dylanís first muse and the young Zimmerman was indeed besotted by her. He made that clear writing ďLet me tell you that your beauty is second to none,Ē in their high-school yearbook. "Love to the most beautiful girl in the school." Of course he moved on, transformed into Bob Dylan and wrote Girl Of The North Country, a song most have seen as written for and about Echo.

Many years later, writing in Chronicles Volume One Dylan had this to say: "Everybody said she looked like Brigitte Bardot and she did."

Mickey Jones passed away on 7th February at the age of 76. He succumbed after a long battle with illness. Jones was hired to fill the drum seat in Dylanís backing band when Levon Helm decided to forego Dylanís 1966 world tour. Jones played in Trini Lopez's band before moving over to Johnny Rivers. It was whilst Rivers was playing an engagement at the Whiskey a Go-Go in Los Angeles that Bob Dylan saw him. Jones relates: "He said, 'You're my favorite drummer and I'd love to record with you.'" His chance came six months later when he got the call from Dylan asking him to take over the drum stool. Jones provided a powerful base for Dylan to take his nightly journeys into the otherworld on that world tour and the extensive aural evidence was made available as The 1966 Live Recordings. Mickey also shot a batch of 8mm movies which he shared with fans at a Manchester Bob Dylan Convention. His tales were well-received and he was just the most no-nonsense, down-to-earth person you could wish to meet. A thoroughly nice guy. R.I.P.

Letís hope for better news in the coming months. One thing is certain - there will always be something happening here in the Dylan universe.

May you climb on every rung ..........

Mike & John


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