Bob Dylan sells archive to Oklahoma school

NEW YORK• Rock icon Bob Dylan has sold his personal archive of notes, draft lyrics, poems, artwork and photographs to the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, where they will be made available to scholars and curated for public exhibitions, the school said on Wednesday.

The trove of more than 6,000 items spans nearly the entire length of Dylan's 55-year career. Despite being regarded as "the voice of a generation" for his influential songs of the 1960s and 1970s, the 74-year-old has mostly kept his items out of the public eye, resulting in high prices when they occasionally come up for auction.

A handwritten copy of the song Like A Rolling Stone sold for a record US$2 million at a New York auction in 2014, and the electric guitar he played at 1965 Newport Folk Festival sold for nearly US$1 million in 2013.

The archive handed over to the University of Tulsa includes two notebooks with lyrics from the 1975 album Blood On The Tracks, and Dylan's handwritten lyrics to his 1964 song Chimes Of Freedom scrawled on hotel notepaper dotted with cigarette burns. There is also correspondence between Dylan and the late beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

The collection includes Dylan's first recordings in 1959, previously unseen concert films and a wallet in which he kept soul great Otis Redding's business card and country star Johnny Cash's phone number.

The purchase was made by the university with support from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the family who became billionaires after fleeing Nazi Germany and entering the Oklahoma oil industry.

The price of the archive was not revealed, but The New York Times estimated it was worth US$15 million (S$20.9 million) to $20 million.

The archive will eventually go on permanent display in Tulsa near a museum dedicated to folk singer Woody Guthrie, one of Dylan's early influences.

"I'm glad that my archives, which have been collected all these years, have finally found a home and are to be included with the works of Woody Guthrie. To me, it makes a lot of sense and it's a great honour," Dylan said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Bob Dylan sells archive to Oklahoma school'. Print Edition | Subscribe