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Happy birthday to Jakob Dylan: Songwriter, musician, and a really nice guy

Jakob Luke Dylan was born on December 9, 1969. He is a successful recording artist, on his own and as the leader of his band, the Wallflowers. Dylan is, of course, the son of Robert and Sara Dylan, and the inspiration for the song "Forever Young."

The Wallflowers and me
Harold Lepidus archives

I was fortunate enough to meet the younger Dylan on two separate occasions. The first was in 2000 at Boston's Paradise Rock Club, when the band was previewing their upcoming album, "(Breach)." When I arrived at the venue to pick up my tickets, I was pleasantly surprised to find a backstage pass in the envelope.

I knew at the time Dylan was a big fan of the Clash. His father had even arranged for him to meet the band, and Joe Strummer apparently gave Jakob the jacket off his back. Since I would be meeting Dylan in a couple of hours, I quickly returned to my office a few blocks away to retrieve a cassette. It was an early, rejected, double LP version of the Clash's "Combat Rock," mixed by Mick Jones, called "Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg."

It was great to see the Wallflowers at a club during that stage of their careers, playing songs I felt were even better than the ones on their previous smash album, "Bringing Down The Horse." They had recently opened for the Who at Madison Square Garden, filling in for Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes, and covered "Won't Get Fooled Again" at end of their set that night.

After the show, we all waited in the closed off front room for the band to arrive. There was quite a rush when Dylan and the band made their entrance, so I just hung out and waited for things to calm down. Eventually I got in line to meet the man. When it was my turn, I presented him with my Clash cassette. He stared at it as if I had handed him the Holy Grail. I quickly explained what little I knew about the album, and you could tell he was truly appreciative. I got the obligatory autograph, and left.

The next time I met Dylan was in 2005. The band was doing promotion for their upcoming album, "Rebel, Sweetheart." They played a short, invitation-only gig at the Cavern Room in Boston's Hard Rock Cafe. The Wallflowers were to play three songs, then participate in a "meet and greet."

This time I was ready. I arrived with a primitive, poor quality, black and white Clash concert from 1980 on a DVD-R, when DVD-Rs were still a novelty. When it was my turn for a photo-op, I quickly handed the disc to Dylan, who stopped everything and turned away from the camera to ask me more about the DVD-R. There was a line of people waiting for their turn to meet Dylan, so I just quickly told him what was on it, then posed for the picture. Again, it was gratifying to see he was not only friendly, unpretentious, and appreciative, but passionate about the music he loved.

Then it was time to get autographed posters for my kids. When I mentioned the name of one of my sons, he said, "That's a great name!" It also happened to be the same as one of his brothers, but I didn't let on that I knew.

The last time I saw Dylan was with the Wallflowers in August, 2009, as part of the Lowell Summer Music Festival. It was another great show, highlighted by the addition of new guitarist Stuart Mathis. I recently heard a live broadcast on SiriusXM, and the band still sounded great.

So happy birthday, Jakob. I hope it was a good one, and thanks for being such a nice guy when we met. You never know when someone is going to write about something about you years later.

Keep up with Performing Arts Examiner news. Just click on Subscribe above, or follow @DylanExaminer on Twitter. Harold Lepidus also writes the Bob Dylan Examiner column. Thanks for your support.


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