“It was at summer camp in northern Wisconsin in 1953 that I first met Bobby Zimmerman from
Hibbing. He was twelve years old and he had a guitar. He would go around telling everybody
that he was going to be a rock-and-roll star. I was eleven and I believed him.”
So begins this honest, funny, and deeply
affectionate memoir of a friendship that has
spanned five decades of wild adventures, soul
searching conversation, musical milestones, and
As Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan
and Louie Kemp built a successful international
business, their lives diverged but their friendship
held fast. No matter how much time passed
between one adventure and the next, the two
“boys from the North Country” picked up where
they left off and shared experiences that will
surprise and delight Dylan fans and anybody
who loves a rollicking-good rock-and-roll
From little Bobby’s very first public
appearance (on a roof at Herzl Camp) through
his formative years in Minnesota and New York
and his rise to global superstardom, Louie Kemp
was by his side—a trusted ally and confidant as
Bob figured out how to share his gifts without
compromising who he was. Louie produced
Bob’s groundbreaking Rolling Thunder Revue—
described in riveting detail here—and traveled
with him in the rarefied world of the rock star,
but he also shared quiet moments and intimate
experiences. When Louie got married, Bob was his best man; when Bob questioned his
Jewish faith, Louie brought him back to the fold. And that is just a small sample of the never-
before-told, up-close-and-personal stories in this eye-opening book. Ever wonder what it
might be like to attend a Passover Seder with Bob Dylan and Marlon Brando? Or go on a
Mexican vacation with Bob Dylan, Dennis Hopper, and Harry Dean Stanton? Or get into a
public food fight with Joan Baez? Read on.
Louie’s own words best describe the relationship at the heart of Dylan & Me: “We have
always had open minds, taken risks, helped the underdog. We have laughed at the same jokes
and confided our deepest thoughts and fears. We have never needed anything from each
other but have always been there for each other.” What better definition of friendship could
Why is this book different from all other Bob Dylan books?
The answer is quite simple. It is because these stories are told by the only other guy who was there. His name is Louie Kemp and he and Bobby Zimmerman met at summer camp when he was eleven years old. For the next fifty years, the two amigos maintained a heroic friendship. That’s a lot longer than most marriages last, or relationships, cars, refrigerators, fish, claims to fame, or anything else I can think of.
The two friends proceeded to travel the world, gaining renown in their respective fields and becoming—beyond doubt—the two most successful dropouts in the history of the University of Minnesota. Yet, they continually came back together to share epic adventures, most of which have never been written about until now, and certainly not from this close up.
When I first heard some of Louie’s stories, I thought, This is what happens when your best friend from childhood becomes a superstar. As I heard more of his tales, I began to feel the tug of something much bigger and just as credible.
In Dylan & Me, Louie has faithfully and unselfconsciously written nothing less than a historical work, a modern-day version of Tom Sawyer’s adventures with Huckleberry Finn. Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota, is Tom, of course—the ringleader and dreamer. Louie Kemp from Duluth, Minnesota, though he sees himself as his friend’s protector, is the more naïve and innocent of the two. Their uniquely American escapades, both before and after Bobby became “Bob,” make for fun, entertaining, and very enlightening reading—especially the way Louie tells them.
Congratulations on wrestling this big, uniquely American story to the ground and squeezing it between the covers of a book. Or, as Bob might say (and often did), “Good work, Louie.”
—Kinky Friedman Echo Hill Ranch, Texas
LOUIE KEMP was born in Duluth Minnesota. Shortly before graduating college, he left
school to take over his father’s Lake Superior fish business, expanding it into Alaska and
making it one of the most successful seafood operations in the country.
His 350-foot mothership, the M/V Bering Trader, was the largest-capacity seafood processor in Alaskan
waters in its day. An ancillary enterprise, the Louis Kemp Seafood Company, helped create
the thriving market for imitation King Crab in the United States.
Louie produced Bob Dylan’s legendary Rolling Thunder Revue tours and
traveled with him all over the world as a trusted ally and friend. As a
respected and devout member of the Jewish community, Louie is the
“father” of Aish Ha Torah’s Discovery Program, attended by more than
500,000 people worldwide, and the founder of Chabad of Pacific
Most meaningful to him of all, he is the proud father of six great
children and five grandchildren…and counting. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
DYLAN & ME are stories collected over 50 years of friendship. Told by Louis Kemp and Kinky Friedman, the adventures begin when the boys are only 11.
They have lived with Bob before he was the star we all know and have the tales to tell about it!