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Bob Dylan

From WDSE
Bob Dylan
Born
Duluth
Nationality United States of America
Genres rock music · blues · country music · American folk music · folk-pop · country rock · folk rock · Christian rock · gospel music · Americana · jazz
Instruments guitar · harmonica · piano · voice · Richter-tuned harmonica · nyckelharpa


Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan playing an electric guitar.
Dylan at Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, in June 2010
Born
Robert Allen Zimmerman

(1941-05-24) May 24, 1941 (age 81)
Other names
Spouses
  • (m. Musical career
    Genres
    Instruments
    • Vocals
    • guitar
    • harmonica
    • keyboards
    Labels
    Websitebobdylan.com
    Signature
    Bob Dylan signature.svg

    Bob Dylan (legally Robert Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter. Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture during a career spanning more than 60 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the civil rights and antiwar movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defying pop music conventions and appealing to the burgeoning counterculture.

    Following his self-titled debut album in 1962, which comprised mainly traditional folk songs, Dylan made his breakthrough as a songwriter with the release of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan the following year. The album features "Blowin' in the Wind" and the thematically complex "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall". Many of his songs adapted the tunes and phraseology of older folk songs. He went on to release the politically charged The Times They Are a-Changin' and the more lyrically abstract and introspective Another Side of Bob Dylan in 1964. In 1965 and 1966, Dylan drew controversy among folk purists when he adopted electrically amplified rock instrumentation, and in the space of 15 months recorded three of the most important and influential rock albums of the 1960s: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited (both 1965) and Blonde on Blonde (1966). His six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965) expanded commercial and creative boundaries in popular music.

    In July 1966, a motorcycle accident led to Dylan's withdrawal from touring. During this period, he recorded a large body of songs with members of the Band, who had previously backed him on tour. These recordings were released as the collaborative album The Basement Tapes in 1975. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dylan explored country music and rural themes in John Wesley Harding (1967), Nashville Skyline (1969), and New Morning (1970). In 1975, he released Blood on the Tracks, which many saw as a return to form. In the late 1970s, he became a born-again Christian and released a series of albums of contemporary gospel music before returning to his more familiar rock-based idiom in the early 1980s. Dylan's 1997 album Time Out of Mind marked the beginning of a renaissance for his career. He has released five critically acclaimed albums of original material since then, the most recent being Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020). He also recorded a series of three albums in the 2010s comprising versions of traditional American standards, especially songs recorded by Frank Sinatra. Dylan has toured continuously since the late 1980s on what has become known as the Never Ending Tour.

    Since 1994, Dylan has published eight books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries. He has sold more than 125 million records, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, ten Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize Board in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power". In 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".

    Life and career[edit | edit source]

    1941–1959: Origins and musical beginnings[edit | edit source]

    The Zimmerman family home in Hibbing, Minnesota

    Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman (Hebrew: שבתאי זיסל בן אברהם Shabtai Zisl ben Avraham) in St. Mary's Hospital on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, on the Mesabi Range west of Lake Superior. Dylan's paternal grandparents, Anna Kirghiz and Zigman Zimmerman, emigrated from Odesa in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) to the United States, following the pogroms against Jews of 1905. His maternal grandparents, Florence and Ben Stone, were Lithuanian Jews who arrived in the United States in 1902.

    Dylan's father Abram Zimmerman and his mother Beatrice "Beatty" Stone were part of a small, close-knit Jewish community. They lived in Duluth until Dylan was six, when his father contracted polio and the family returned to his mother's hometown, Hibbing, where they lived for the rest of Dylan's childhood, and his father and paternal uncles ran a furniture and appliance store. In his early years he listened to the radio—first to blues and country stations from Shreveport, Louisiana, and later, when he was a teenager, to rock and roll.

    Dylan formed several bands while attending Hibbing High School. In the Golden Chords, he performed covers of songs by Little Richard and Elvis Presley. Their performance of Danny & the Juniors' "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay" at their high school talent show was so loud that the principal cut the microphone. In 1959, Dylan's high school yearbook carried the caption "Robert Zimmerman: to join 'Little Richard'". That year, as Elston Gunnn, he performed two dates with Bobby Vee, playing piano and clapping. In September 1959, Dylan moved to Minneapolis and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. His focus on rock and roll gave way to American folk music, as he explained in a 1985 interview: