Happy birthday Bob Dylan!

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Bob Dylan (born May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and author. He became a major figure in the American civil rights movement, penning such protest songs as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin.'" He's labeled by many as a poet. He has also been described as having an "iconoclastic temperament." He has released 35 studio albums, and has toured for the better part of the last thirty years.

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Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota. His parents, Abram Zimmerman and Beatrice "Beatty" Stone, were part of a tight-knit Jewish community, his family having descended from Russian Jewish immigrants. As a child, he was very interested in rock and roll, listening to the radio and becoming a particularly big fan of Little Richard. He formed and performed with several bands during his teen years.

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In 1959, Dylan enrolled at the University of Minnesota. His love of rock and roll gave way to a love of folk music, especially the music of Woody Guthrie. During the one year he spent in school, he began performing at the Ten O'Clock Scholar, a local coffeehouse and soon became part of the Dinkytown folk music circuit.

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Dylan left school after one year to move to New York. He began playing in clubs around Greenwich Village, mingling with and learning from the likes of Dave Van Ronk, Fred Neil, Odetta, and The New Lost City Ramblers. When he caught the attention of Columbia's John Hammond after appearing on a Carolyn Hester album, he was offered a contract. Though his first album, Bob Dylan (1962) only sold 5,000 copies, Hammond supported Dylan earnestly. Dylan recorded under multiple pseudonyms that year for various albums, including recording the part of harmonica for Ramblin' Jack Elliott's album Jack Elliott (1964).

Soon after, he signed Albert Grossman to manage him and by this time was appearing on British television. He performed the song "Blowin' in the Wind" on a BBC program, and it quickly became his most popular song. When his next album came out in 1963, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan was largely labeled a protest album.

He became involved with folk musician Joan Baez, both professionally and romantically. She helped bring him to the international stage, often inviting him onstage to perform at her own concerts.

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By this time, Dylan was becoming the face and voice of the American folk revival movement. Over the next few years, his albums The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964) and Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964) became increasingly political and then more light-hearted. Dylan borrowed melodies and narratives from early slave songs, and later introduced more topical narratives and references.

In 1965, Dylan went electric with the album Bringing It All Back Home, which featured "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Not long after, Dylan released the single "Like a Rolling Stone," which was last listed by Rolling Stone as the single greatest song of all time in 2011.

At this point in time, pressures on Dylan to perform and record were at an all-time high. In 1966, he crashed his motorcycle near his home, allowing him the chance to become a recluse in recovery. He did not tour again following the accident for almost eight years.

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The 1970s saw less consistent reception of Dylan's work. In 1975, Dylan released Blood on the Tracks, the only album to be considered a rival to his mid-1960s work, though it initially received criticism.

Dylan took a turn toward fundamentalist Christianity during the late 1970s and 1980s, releasing two Christian albums and one that contained a mix of secular and Christian compositions: Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981).

Almost all of Dylan's recordings in the latter part of the 1980s received negative reviews, including the album he recorded with The Grateful Dead, with whom he toured extensively. He also toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The exception to his streak of negative review came when he formed the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. The band released Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 and the album reached no. 3 on the U.S. album chart.

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Dylan began what came to be known as The Never Ending Tour in 1988, which consisted of him touring for about twenty years straight with a revolving door of band members. He continues to tour and his 35th studio album, Tempest, was released in 2012.

Dylan has won 11 Grammy awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Polar Music Prize in 2000.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 24 May 2014
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