Legendary American singer, songwriter, poet, artist and actor, Bob Dylan performing from his repertoire of over 400 songs and 50 albums at the 22nd annual Bluesfest music festival in Australia. Still touring after half a century. Dubbed the “voice of a generation” for anthems like “The Times they Are a-Changin'” and the poet laureate of folk for “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man” and others, Dylan shows no signs of slowing down as he enters his eighth decade. – AFP File Photo

LONDON: Music legend Bob Dylan has revealed that he was once addicted to heroin, in an interview taped in 1966 and only released for the first time on Monday.

“I kicked a heroin habit in New York City,” the singer-songwriter confessed to his friend Robert Shelton in a March 1966 interview.

“I got very, very strung out for a while, I mean really, very strung out. And I kicked the habit. I had about a $25-a-day habit and I kicked it.”It is thought to be the only time that Dylan, dubbed the “voice of a generation” for anthems like “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and the poet laureate of folk for “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man” and others, admitted the habit.

The two-hour interview, broadcast by BBC radio, was conducted on Dylan's private plane while he was touring the United States. He and Shelton, the critic who helped launch his career, were flying from Lincoln, Nebraska to Denver.

Elsewhere in the interview tapes, Dylan, then aged 24, reveals that he thought about killing himself.

“Death to me is nothing... death to me means nothing as long as I can die fast. Many times I've known I could have been able to die fast, and I could have easily gone over and done it,” he said.

“I'll admit to having this suicidal thing... but I came through this time.”Asked about his writing, Dylan said he took his work “less seriously than anybody” and said “it's not going to make me happy. You can't be happy by doing something groovy”.

Returning to the theme of suicide, he says: “I'm not the kind of cat (guy) that's going to cut off an ear if I can't do something. I'm the kind of cat that would just commit suicide.

“I'd shoot myself in the brain if things got bad. I'd jump from a window... man, I would shoot myself. You know I can think about death, man, openly.”

The tapes were uncovered during research for a revised edition of Shelton's biography, “No Direction Home”, which first came out in 1986. The new edition coincides with Dylan's 70th birthday on Tuesday.

Updated May 24, 2011 02:55pm

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