DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Welcome home, Bob Dylan. It’s been a long time.
Dylan, 57, returned Thursday night to the town where he was born for his first concert since becoming the oracle of his generation in the 1960s.
For some hometown fans, it didn’t matter that it’s taken so long for their famous native son to return.
For whatever reason, previous attempts to stage a Dylan concert in the Lake Superior port city fell through. A fan suggested Dylan’s near-fatal heart infection last year changed his attitude toward his hometown.
“I think he’s finally mellowed out and accepted what he does,” said music store co-owner Mark Bennett, who organizes Duluth’s annual “Bob Fest.” The event features local musicians playing Dylan tunes.
Fans were eager to welcome Dylan, who won three Grammys this year, including album of the year for “Time Out of Mind.” The 7,700-seat Duluth Entertainment Convention Center sold out in five hours when tickets went on sale last month.
Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth on May 24, 1941, the older of two sons. When he was six, his family moved to Hibbing, about 60 miles northwest of Duluth on Minnesota’s Iron Range.
At Hibbing High School, Dylan cultivated a James Dean image, riding a motorcycle and pounding out rock ‘n’ roll on the piano. His yearbook from the Class of ’59 gives his ambition: “To join Little Richard.”
After graduation, he briefly attended the University in Minneapolis and played guitar in coffee houses in the Twin Cities, using the stage name Bob Dylan. But he soon left for New York City, where he created a sensation in the folk scene with stirring protest songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
Early in his career, Dylan told people he was an orphan from Oklahoma or New Mexico. But he really was the son of middle-class parents — Abraham and Beatty Zimmerman. His family owned an appliance and furniture store in Hibbing.
But Dylan has remembered his Minnesota roots. One of his best-known albums, “Highway 61 Revisited,” is named after a highway running through Duluth. And at this year’s Grammy Awards, he reminisced about being a teenager and seeing the late Buddy Holly perform at the Duluth National Guard Armory.