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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
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Bob Dylan Biography

Bob Dylan, actually Robert Allen Zimmerman, was born 24 May 1941 in Duluth MN; his father Abe worked for the Standard Oil Company. Six years later the family moved to Hibbing, often the coldest place in the US, where Bob Dylan taught himself piano and guitar and formed several high school rock bands. In 1959 Bob Dylan entered the University of Minnesota and began performing as Bob Dylan at clubs in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The following year he went to New York, performed in Greenwich Village folk clubs, and spent much time in the hospital room of his hero Woody Guthrie. Read Full Bio >>

Bob Dylan Awards

YearAwardCategoryForResult
2010 Grammy Awards Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
2006 Grammy Awards Best Long Form Music Video "American Masters: No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (#19.7)" (2005). Won
2004 Satellite Awards Best Original Song Gods and Generals (2003). Nominated
2002 Grammy Awards Album of the Year Nominated
2001 Academy Awards, USA Best Music, Original Song Wonder Boys (2000). Won

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Bob Dylan Trivia

  • He was in a serious motorcycle accident in July of 1966, and in seclusion until late 1969.
  • Awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammies in 1991.
  • Admitted to hospital, for treatment of a "potentially life threatening infection." [27 May 1997]
  • Father of the singer/songwriter Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers.
  • In February 1964 Dylan and three friends drove south from New York to see some of the US heartland. Dylan insisted they stop unannounced to see poet Carl Sandburg in North Carolina. To his lasting disappointment, Dylan left after some ten minutes when he sadly realized he couldn't get the venerable man of letters to take him seriously as a fellow poet.
  • Awarded the Polar Music Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music Award, in 2000.
  • Received France's highest cultural award, the Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, January 30, 1990.
  • Awarded honorary doctorate by Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, June 9, 1970.
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Bruce Springsteen at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, New York, January 18, 1988.
  • Has a daughter named Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan (born 1985) from his secret marriage to gospel-rock vocalist Carol Dennis, a former backup singer with him.
  • At the famous "Johnny Cash at San Quentin" concert, Johnny Cash introduced a song co-written by Dylan, describing him as "...the greatest writer of our time".
  • Is a vegetarian.
  • Son Jesse Dylan is a director
  • Early in his career used the stage name 'Elston Gunn'.
  • His two most recent albums to date, 1997's 'Time out of Mind' and 2001's 'Love and Theft' were both voted Album of the Year in the Village Voice's annual critics' poll.
  • Appears on sleeve of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
  • Borrowed lines from a Japanese book "Confessions of a Yakuza" for lyrics in the songs of his latest Album "Love and Theft" - the author was apparently flattered by this.
  • Attended the University of Minnesota briefly after graduating high school; flunked out by non-participation ("refusin' to see a rabbit die" in a Science class, and reading Kant instead of a required textbook), and cutting classes to frequent the local Dinkytown coffeehouses.
  • Hitchhiked from Minnesota to New York after leaving college, paying his way with odd jobs and sleeping wherever he could find space. Stopped at a courthouse along the way, and legally changed his name from Zimmerman to Dylan. (When asked later if his name was spelled like Dylan Thomas, he answered "No, like Bob Dylan.")
  • Introduced the Beatles to pot-smoking in 1964, during their first meeting in New York; each told the press later "We just laughed all night."
  • Dylan's father owned a furniture store when young "Bobby" was in high school, and sent him once on rounds, to collect from installment-plan customers late on their bills. When Dylan returned and told his father "Dad, those people don't have any money," his father replied "Some of those people make as much money as I do; they just don't know how to manage it." The lesson stuck with Dylan.
  • According to the stage manager at Hibbing High School, and a local documentary, the piano that he played on stage is currently the same one that the school uses during their drama performances.
  • He graduated from Hibbing High School in 1959.
  • The town of Hibbing, Minnesota where he went to high school still acknowledges him. On Howard Street, there is a restaurant called Zimmy's taken after his real last name (Zimmerman).
  • Awarded an honorary degree at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). [June 2004]
  • Some of his biggest influences are Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, 'Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton' , Leadbelly, Mance Lipscomb, Big Joe Williams and Woody Guthrie.
  • Dylan once visited artist and filmmaker Andy Warhol when he came to pick up actress/model Edie Sedgwick, whom he was dating at the time, and found himself the subject of Warhol's movie camera. Dylan responded by picking up an original Warhol painting and taking it with him "for payment" for being filmed, which he used first as a dartboard, then traded for a sofa. (Dylan apologized to Warhol in a press interview years later, for his attitude.)
  • Visited Israel in the early 1970s on what was supposed to be a private trip; this was spoiled when he was photographed at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, and the picture made headlines around the world.
  • Said that when he performs "All Along the Watchtower," he thinks of it as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Although Dylan was the song's original writer, Hendrix's cover is the best known version of the song.
  • Although raised Jewish, he converted to a born-again version of Christianity in the late 70s. Today he is very private about his religious belief, although he has been known to practice during Jewish holidays.
  • Renounced his faith in his born-again Christianity in 1983.
  • Besides his self-titled first album and a few albums in the early 70s, he has been the writer of almost everything he has recorded.
  • Although he is often thought of as just playing guitar, harmonica, and singing, Dylan is equally skilled on the piano, and he has played most instruments at one point or another in his 40+ years in music. On the album "John Wesley Harding," for example, he played all the instruments but drums and bass on most of the tracks.
  • Dylan turned down an offer to headline the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969 (Jimi Hendrix ultimately headlined), even though he had been living on a farm in Woodstock, NY for many years at that point.
  • Although he continues to influence musicians today, perhaps Dylan's most significant influence was on other musicians of his own generation in the 60s. Among the musicians he influenced to start writing deeper, more introspective material were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Paul Simon, among many, many others. Ironically, when those he influenced were at their creative peaks in the late 60s, Dylan himself was in seclusion (after a motorcycle accident) and he really had nothing to do with the "hippie counterculture."
  • He was voted the 2nd Greatest Rock 'n' Rock Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.
  • Was a member of the Travelling Willburys with Beatle George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra.
  • He studied with Lubavitch Hasidim in the early '80s.
  • Always something of a Casanova, he had his first steady girlfriend at 14 and was seeing as many as five girls at once by the time he was in college.
  • By the time he was ten, Bob began to get piano lessons and he was beginning to listen to the country, blues, and (a little later) the rock 'n' roll played on radio late at night in Hibbing. In his teens, Bob's father bought him an electric guitar and he started a series of rock 'n' roll cover bands with friends from school and summer camp called The Jokers, The Shadow Blasters, and, lastly, The Golden Chords. Once in college, he became so excited by the folk music of Woody Guthrie that he traded his electric guitar for an acoustic one.
  • In his book, "Chronicles," Dylan indicates that the reason he began starting writing songs were the works of folk-legend Woody Guthrie (Dylan was obsessed with Guthrie's "hoped-up union meeting sermons"), mysterious blues-great Robert Johnson (Dylan saying he evoked the "dark night of the soul"), and certain songs by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (due to their "tough language" and their "resilience and outrageous power").
  • There is much myth surrounding his changing his last name. In his "Chronicles," he said that he didn't think Zimmerman would be catchy enough as a stage name and that he first considered making his last name to his middle name, Allen. He then noted that a "D" would be stronger than an "A". But rather than spell it Dillion and in tribute to one of his favorite poets, Dylan Thomas, he choose to spell it Dylan. By late in college as many people called him "Dylan" as they did "Zimmerman" or "Zimmy" and, by the time he made it to New York City, everybody called him "Dylan."
  • Won an Academy Award for the song "Things Have Changed" from the "Wonder Boys" soundtrack. Dylan performed the song and accepted the Oscar via satellite due to the fact that he was on tour through Germany at the time.
  • Although he had several stalkers over the years, perhaps the most dogged was the self-titled Dylanologist, A.J. Weberman. This obsessed fan started the "Dylan Liberation Front," protesting that Dylan had sold out and has abandoned his political causes (in reality, Dylan was never very political). Weberman staged several "protests" in front of Dylan's home, rooted through Dylan's garbage repeatedly, and accused Dylan of heroin use. After Weberman pushed aside Dylan's wife, Sara, and broke into Dylan's home, Dylan lost his patience and defeated his considerably beefier stalker in a fight.
  • Despite his reputation as a "protest singer", he was never very active politically and very rarely rallied for causes. Although he did some work in support of the civil right movements and often fought individual injustices (most famously, that of Ruben "Hurricane" Carter), many of his peers in the folk community found his apparently indifference to politics frustrating.
  • For the recording of the famous, rambling song "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35" (with its chorus of "everybody must get stoned!"), Dylan took the group of mostly straight-laced, professional session musicians he was recording with, got them very drunk and had them smoke pot. When they returned, he had each man play a different instrument to what they usually played. After this went on, somebody asked Dylan when they were actually going to record the song, Dylan countered, "That was it."
  • His favorite movie is Tirez sur le pianiste (1960) by Fran�ois Truffaut.
  • Other bands Dylan preformed in are The Satin Stones, The Rockets and Elston Gunn and the Rock Boppers.
  • At the 40th annually Grammy Awards in 1998 he won a Grammy for best male rock-singer (on 'Cold irons bound'), best contemporary folksinger and album of the year (Time out of mind).
  • In May 1997 he was diagnosed with pericarditis, which can be lethal if it's not discovered in time.
  • Holds the impressive distinction of having had his songs covered by nearly 3,000 artists, including Jimi Hendrix, U2, Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, and The Beach Boys.
  • His song "Like a Rolling Stone" was named # 1 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004). Other songs listed include: "Blowin' in the Wind" (# 14), "The Times Are A-Changin'" (# 59), "Tangled Up In Blue" (# 68), "Mr. Tambourine Man" (# 106), "Desolation Row" (# 185), "Knocking on Heaven's Door" (# 190), "Positively 4th Street" (# 203), "Just Like a Woman" # (230), "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (# 332), "Highway 61 Revisited" (# 364), and "Visions of Johanna" (# 403).
  • Despite rumors that he hates rap music, Dylan cites several rappers as having "brilliant minds" and, in his "Chronicles" states that he is a big fan of several Old School rappers, particularly Public Enemy, who were one of his favorite artists. Many see an early connection to rap in Dylan's music, particularly the song "Subterranean Homesick Blues". However, Dylan apparently dislikes the commercialism of much modern hip-hop and warns that "sometimes less is more".
  • The 67 year old Bob Dylan's 33rd studio album "Together Through Life", which was released on April 28, went straight to the top of the UK album charts on May 3, 2009, nearly 40 years after he last topped the charts.


Bob Dylan Photos

  • Bob Dylan

    5th Annual Hop Farm Music Festival - Day 2

  • Bob Dylan

    21st Annual Feis Music Festival - Day 1

  • Bob Dylan

    21st Annual Feis Music Festival - Day 1

  • Bob Dylan

    21st Annual Feis Music Festival - Day 1

  • Bob Dylan

    21st Annual Feis Music Festival - Day 1

  • Bob Dylan

    21st Annual Feis Music Festival - Day 1

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