24 May 2011

Voice of a generation Bob Dylan turns 70

10:33 pm on 24 May 2011

Seventy years old and - like a rolling stone - still touring. Bob Dylan, America's most celebrated musician, turns 70 on Tuesday.

It is now 50 years since the young Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Hibbing, Minnesota, hitch-hiked to New York with his guitar and a dream to make it as a singer.

He landed in the Greenwich Village folk music scene and thanks largely to an astonishing ability to churn out songs that captured the feeling of the times - which as he told us were a-changin' - quickly became a star.

His career has continued unabated - his most recent album two years ago topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and just three weeks ago he wound up an Asian tour with a concert in Auckland.

The music legend has revealed he was once addicted to heroin, in an interview taped in 1966 but released for the first time on Monday.

"I kicked a heroin habit in New York City," Dylan, then aged 24, confessed to his friend Robert Shelton.

"I got very, very strung out for a while, I mean really, very strung out. And I kicked the habit. I had about a $25-a-day habit and I kicked it."

It is thought to be the only time that Dylan, dubbed the "voice of a generation" for anthems like The Times They Are a-Changin' and the poet laureate of folk for Hey Mr Tambourine Man and others, admitted the habit.

The two-hour interview, broadcast by BBC radio, was conducted on Dylan's private plane while he was touring the United States.

The tapes were uncovered during research for a revised edition of Shelton's biography, No Direction Home, which first came out in 1986.