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The Central Hillside's Bob Dylan connection

By JARED JACOBSON
DCN Reporter

In 1948, at the age of 6, Robert Zimmerman left his home in Duluth’s Central Hillside and moved to Hibbing with his family. Sixty years later, people still remember his time here, but most now know him by the name of Bob Dylan.

One fan, John Bushey, a radio disc jockey for 16 years, knows what Duluth lost when Dylan left.

“Bob Dylan has had an influence on every musician since him,? Bushey said. “He was the reason for the transfer from folk rock to electric rock.?

Bushey was nearly the only supplier of memorabilia when the city of Hibbing sought to create a Dylan museum.

Now, Bushey is one of several trying to bring Dylan’s legacy back to Duluth.

A 2006 resolution, passed by the Duluth City Council, designated a 1.8-mile stretch of road in Duluth’s downtown as Bob Dylan Way, the result of efforts by a Bob Dylan committee that includes both Bushey and Jean Shaw.

Jean Shaw knows what’s at stake as well.

“Bob Dylan got his start in music while he was in Duluth,? Shaw said.

The only problem is that Dylan spent a significant majority of his childhood in Hibbing.

He didn't leave the Iron Range until he went off to college at the University of Minnesota in 1959.

“Today, Dylan would call Hibbing his hometown,? said Bushey.

Despite that fact, there is still a real Dylan presence in Duluth.

Perhaps the most significant of these is the Duluth National Guard Armory, which played an undeniable role in Dylan’s early growth as a musician.

While still living in Hibbing, Dylan made his way back to Duluth to see Buddy Holly play a concert three days before Holly died in a plane crash.

"I was three seats away from him, and he looked at me and...I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way," Dylan said at an awards show in 1998.

If you want to go back to his beginnings, you need look no further than his Central Hillside birth home, located at 519 N. Third Ave..

The home was last sold in 2001 on eBay to a Dylan fan who wanted the house as part of his collection.

“I’ve heard stories of him banging on pianos while he was there,? Bushey says. “But I don’t know how much music you can learn when you’re only 6 years old.?

Now, the Dylan committee is working on other ways to remember the musician.

Efforts are underway to show Dylan displays in some of Duluth’s most prominent restaurants.

Also, the committee is trying to start an annual Dylan Days, similar to the one already in place in Hibbing.

There is little doubt that Duluth will ever forget about its native son, so long as we don’t stop listening to his music, like in his song, Something There is About You.

“Thought I’d shaken the wonder and phantoms of my youth-Rainy days on the Great Lakes, walkin’ the hills of old Duluth,? said Dylan in one of his songs.