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Program Features Writer Michael Gray on Bob Dylan and Poetry of the Blues


JONESBORO – The Lecture-Concert Series at Arkansas State University will present “Bob Dylan and the Poetry of the Blues, An Evening with Writer Michael Gray,” Tuesday, Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m., in the Carl R. Reng Student Union Auditorium.  Admission is free.

"Michael Gray is one of the top authorities on Bob Dylan's music and a major writer on blues music,” according to Dr. Gregory Hansen, professor of folklore and English at A-State.  “We're fortunate to have him give a presentation that blends together both areas of his expertise in a way that's relevant to the cultural traditions of our region."

Students and others who attend will hear Gray use recordings and rare videos to show how Dylan’s compositions were often inspired and influenced by the blues.

Gray is a critic, writer, public speaker and broadcaster who is considered a world authority on Dylan’s work and the history rock ’n’ roll.

A native of Merseyside, England, he graduated in 1967 from the University of York with a degree in history and English.  While working as a student journalist, he interviewed the distinguished British historian A.J.P. Taylor and American guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

His pioneering study “Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan,” published in the United Kingdom in 1972, was the first full-length critical study of Dylan’s work.  The massive third edition, including his study of Dylan’s use of the blues, was published in the U.S. early in 2000.  A seventh reprint was issued in 2008, and the book remained in print until late 2010. 

For a time he was a freelance writer and then head of press for United Arts Records (UK) Ltd.  There he got to know musician Gerry Rafferty, for whom he served as personal manager until 1982.

Other subjects of his books and articles in mainstream media include Frank Zappa and Elvis Presley, along with international travel features.

Gray’s “Bob Dylan Encyclopedia,” published by Continuum in New York & London in 2006, won the International Association of Music Libraries’ C.B. Oldman Prize for the year's outstanding work of reference and research.

Since 2000, he has discussed his work at more than 150 universities, literary festivals, music festivals, theatres, conventions and arts centers.  He and his wife, food writer Sarah Beattie, live in France.

His presentation at A-State also is supported by generous funding from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department of English and Philosophy, and the Heritage Studies Doctoral Program, according to Dr. Tim Crist, chair of the Lecture-Concert Committee.  Arkansas State University educates leaders, enhances intellectual growth and enriches lives.

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Michael Gray
Michael Gray