As Dylan`s birthday dawns, Indian rockstar-fan pays tribute

Last Updated: May 23, 2011, 12:38 PM IST

Shillong: Bob Dylan turns 70 Tuesday and one of his biggest fans in India, rockstar Lou Majaw, wants Meghalaya to declare it a holiday. The man who has kept the American legend`s songs alive in the northeast also wants it to be `Bob Dylan`s Day`.

"I want the Meghalaya government to declare May 24 as an annual holiday for all educational institutions as a mark of respect to this man (Dylan) who has given so much to the world through his songs and poetry," Majaw, who is adoringly called "India`s Bob Dylan", told reporters.

Majaw, who was introduced to Dylan`s music in 1966, has been celebrating the legendary singer`s birthday in Shillong for over three decades.

This unbroken celebration in the Meghalaya capital began in 1972, and grew from a small private celebration among close friends to an annual event that draws Dylan fans from across the country.

Dylan is an iconic singer and songwriter whose soulful, occasionally political and often irreverent songs during his nearly five-decade long career has won him millions of fans across the world.

By declaring the day as a holiday, Majaw said, he wanted students to take serious interest in Dylan`s music and poetry.

"Yes, there are so many who write poetry and songs, but I tell you man, none of them has reached his heights.

"Why only Meghalaya...I would love the whole world to declare a holiday as a respect to this noble man who has given us so much through his songs and poetry," the 64-year-old musician said.

Majaw is taking Dylan`s music to thousands of children across schools in the region.

This year Tuesday, Majaw has lined up two gigs dubbed as "10 hours of beautiful music" in Shillong.

As a mark of respect for Dylan, eight bands from the northeastern states - Alive (Sikkim), D`Luzion (Assam), Cleave (Manipur), Evenflo (Mizoram), Incipit (Nagaland), Swraijak (Tripura), Symmetry Clan (Arunachal Pradesh) and Midnight Garden Factor (Shillong) will come together and play his songs.

Born to a poor family, Majaw taught himself to play the guitar in school.

After a few years as a struggler in Shillong, Majaw moved to Kolkata where he played at various pubs, bars and with bands like the Dynamite Boys, Vanguards, Supersound Factory and Blood and Thunder.

He jammed with some of the biggest names of the Kolkata music scene like Nondon Bagchi, Arjun Sen and Lew Hilton.

But Majaw is best known for his `Bob Dylan Birthday Concerts`, which he has been hosting every year since 1972.

"It took me six years to get to know Lou (Majaw). He is the only musician who has remained committed to Dylan and rock-and-roll all these years," said filmmaker Ranjan Palit, who has made a documentary on Lou called "Forever Young".

The first time when Palit met Majaw in 2001, the musician was playing Dylan numbers to a group of children in Shillong.

"I remember him saying `come in, it is a free country`. Then, I decided to go back and told him I wanted to make a movie on him. His eyebrows shot up and on my third visit I was allowed into his home," Palit said.

IANS