Bob Dylan said Muhammad Ali was “truly the greatest” in his written tribute, the latest in a series of musician-penned commemorations to the boxer.
A longtime admirer of the boxer, Dylan wrote on his website: “If the measure of greatness is to gladden the heart of every human being on the face of the earth, then he truly was the greatest. In every way he was the bravest, the kindest and the most excellent of men.”
Boxers have inspired Dylan songs “Who Killed Davey Moore” and “Hurricane“. Following the release of the latter, which was a protest song against boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s wrongful conviction for murder, Ali joined Dylan on stage at a New York concert in 1965 and rung Carter in prison during the show.
Dylan also sang about Ali, who was then called Cassius Clay, in a verse of “I Shall Be Free No 10” in 1964 LP Another Side of Bob Dylan. The track was recorded after Ali beat Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion for the first time.
I said ‘Fee, fie, fo, fum, Cassius Clay, here I come
26, 27, 28, 29, I’m gonna make your face look just like mine
Five, four, three, two, one, Cassius Clay you’d better run
99, 100, 101, 102, your ma won’t even recognize you
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, gonna knock him clean right out of his spleen.
Also paying his respects was Paul McCartney, who first met Ali with The Beatles in February 1964. He wrote on his site: “Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humour who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you… The world has lost a truly great man,”
Ali died aged 74 last Friday (3 June) after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Paul Simon was doing a concert at the time of his death, and stopped midway through a rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” to inform the audience.
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