Campus News Society & Culture

UGA to host noted Bob Dylan authority

Athens, Ga. – Michael Gray, widely published critic, writer and broadcaster, will speak on “Bob Dylan and the Poetry of the Blues” on March 30, at 4 p.m. in room 101 of the Miller Learning. Using music and rare footage, Gray will discuss how Dylan has been inspired by the blues and how much of its poetry has been used in his own writing. The event, sponsored by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, the Helen S. Lanier Professor of English, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for African American Studies, is free and open to the public.

Gray is recognized as a world authority on the work of Bob Dylan, and an expert on rock ‘n’ roll history and the blues, with a special interest in pre-war blues. He grew up in Merseyside, England, went to the Cavern, studied History and English at York University, and as a student journalist, interviewed Jimi Hendrix.

His Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, published by Continuum in New York in 2006, won the International Association of Music Libraries’ C. B. Oldman Prize for an outstanding work of reference and research. Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell, published by Bloomsbury UK in 2007 and 2008 and by Chicago Review Press in the U.S. in 2009, was shortlisted for the 2008 James Tait Black Prize for Biography and was awarded an ARSC Certificate of Merit in 2010 for a work of exceptional quality.

His pioneering study Song and Dance Man, published in the 1972, was the first full-length critical study of Dylan’s work. A second, updated edition was published in 1981. The massive third edition Song and Dance Man III-including a 112-page study of Dylan’s use of the blues-was published in early 2000 in the U.S. Still selling, a seventh reprint was issued in 2008, and it remained in print until 2010.

His work has been published in Rolling Stone, The Times, Literary Review, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Weekend Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph,Melody Maker, Uncut and more.

In 2005, Gray was the Amelia Cummins Harvey Visiting Fellow Commoner at Girton College, Cambridge. Since 2000, he has delivered more than 140 talks at arts festivals, literary festivals, music festivals and arts centers, including at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2006, he gave an address at the New School in New York City, and attracted the largest audience for any outside speaker in more than two years when he spoke at the University of Texas at Austin. In March 2007, he gave the closing address at the University of Minnesota’s three-day symposium on Dylan’s work, in which other speakers included Christopher Ricks and Greil Marcus.

One reviewer has written: “Michael Gray’s events are always lively, spontaneous and acute, using unpredictable slices of loud music to offer a thoroughly entertaining, fresh account of Dylan’s achievement and a thrilling exposition of blues and its poetry.”