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Bob Dylan

May 24, 1941

Artistfacts for Bob Dylan

  • His real name is Robert Zimmerman. He probably took his name from poet Dylan Thomas, be he has never confirmed this. He did confirm in his autobiography Chronicles, Volume I that he went with "Bob" instead of "Bobby" because he didn't want to be confused with Bobby Darin, Bobby Rydell or Bobby Vee. (thanks, Clapton - San fran , CA)
  • Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota. At an early age he moved to Hibbing, where he grew up. This part of the state was known for its abundant iron mines at the time. It is known by its inhabitants as "The North Country," hence the song "Girl From The North Country."
  • Dylan briefly attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in the early '60s. During this time, he hung out frequently in an area known as Dinkytown. Dinkytown had a burgeoning folk scene at the time and this is where he first performed as a solo artist (he had a number of rock 'n' roll bands in high school) and first used the name Bob Dylan. (thanks, don - rapid city, SD, for above 2)
  • He was secretly married for 6 years to Carol Dennis, one of his backup singers. They had a daughter together.
  • He was married to his first wife, Sara, from 1965-1977. In the divorce, she got half the royalties to the songs Dylan wrote while they were married, some of which were about her.
  • Dylan played 6 shows with The Grateful Dead in 1987. They released a live album called Dylan And The Dead.
  • In a classic 1966 French film Masculin-Feminin, the protagonist reads a headline from a French newspaper saying, "Qui etes-vous Bob Dylan?" This means, "Who are you, Bob Dylan?"
  • He broke several vertebrae in his neck when he crashed his motorcycle in 1966. It kept him from recording for a while and prompted rumors that he was brain damaged or dead.
  • He often wears the same pair of socks 2 days in a row.
  • He had a cat named Rollin' Stone.
  • In 1960, Dylan was paid 50 dollars to play harmonica on a Harry Belafonte album.
  • He has recorded under several pseudonyms, including Bob Landy, Robert Milkwood Thomas, and Blind Boy Grunt.
  • Dylan has starred in a couple of movies, none of which have done well with the critics. They include Hearts Of Fire, Pat Garrett And Billy The kid and Renaldo And Clara. (thanks, s - Oshawa, Canada)
  • Dylan's first band was formed in high school and called the Golden Chords. He was the piano player.
  • Michael Jackson and Dylan performed together at Elizabeth Taylor's 55th birthday party in 1987.
  • In the mid-1970s, then-unknown comic Steve Martin opened for Dylan in Tampa, Florida.
  • He named his 1969 album after outlaw John Wesley Hardin. His last name was misspelled "Harding."
  • In 1991, he won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
  • He was raised Jewish, but became a born-again Christian in the late '70s.
  • Dylan and his first wife Sara are the parents of film director Jesse Dylan and musician Jakob Dylan, the lead singer and songwriter of The Wallflowers. Bob Dylan later married his longtime backup singer Carolyn Dennis. Jesse's wife Susan Traylor and Jakob's wife Paige Dylan are both actresses.
  • Dylan: "I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • Martin Scorsese's PBS documentary No Way Home made a strong case that Bob Dylan was the most influential songwriter of the 20th Century. Whether one accepts that opinion or not, there's ample evidence he was among the most prolific. Remarkably, in just three years, Dylan wrote six classic albums of great original songs.

    Freewheelin' was released May 27, 1963; Times They Are A-Changin' on January 13, 1964; Another Side of Bob Dylan seven months later on August 8 1964; Bringing It All Back Home on March 22 1965; Highway 61 Revisited five months later on August 30, 1965; and Blonde On Blonde eight months later on May 16, 1966. What other famous songwriter has created such a wealth of brilliant songs in such a short period of time? (thanks to Steve Cahill at the Songwriters Resource Network)
  • In 2008, he became the first Rock musician ever awarded a Pulitzer Prize. He was given the special award for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • Dylan recorded the folk song "The House Of The Rising Sun" on his first album, and after The Animals recorded the song in 1964, it had a profound effect on him. Animals lead singer Eric Burdon told us: "Bob Dylan, who was angry at first, turned into a rocker. Dylan went electric in the shadow of The Animals classic 'House of the Rising Sun.'"
  • Back in 1965, when a British reporter asked him what his message was, Bob Dylan replied, "Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb." His famous quote appears in Don't Look Back, the documentary that covers Bob Dylan's 1965 concert tour of the United Kingdom. No wonder then that his explicit demand on his concert rider was to have dressing rooms lit with incandescent lighting.
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Comments: 46

Bob is the 'Shakespeare' of rock.Bertrand - Bronx, Ny
He's a decent guitarist who plays a squaky harmonica and has an aweful voice... but he's the greatest songwriter ever, so who cares? People who cite those reasons for not liking Bob Dylan don't get Bob Dylan. Ideal band: Jim Morrison (on LSD) on vocals; Eric Clapton on lead guitar with Keith Richards on rhythm guitar; Larry Mullen Jr. on drums; John Lennon on piano/organ; John Paul Jones on bass; and Bob writes the songs.Davíd - Woburn, Ma
I LOVE BOB DYLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no other folk artist who can even compare to him. I love all of his music and he will forever be remembered. His songs had great melodies and his singing may not have been top notch but it's unique and that's part of what sets him apart from the rest. People need to stop arguing over facts and just enjoy the fact that we all listen and respect his music. As a guitar player; I admire him. His one of my role models when it comes to music. He sits up there with the beatles and Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and Rush. Not to bash any other folk musicians but it can't get any better with Bob Dylan.Allison - Oslo, --
danci,
She's got everything she needs, she,s an artist she don't look back." the title is "She belongs to me." peter
Peter - Pittsbyegh, Pa
suprised theres nothing on here bout bobs idol Woody Guthrie, the reason he became a folk artist acording to one of his biographiesCody - Janesville , Wi
You can't really judge bob dylans best album because they all have something different about them that make them great.Erik - Royal Oak, Mi
Bob Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana.Bryce - Justin, Tx
Bob Dylans best album by far is Blonde on Blonde (1966). It blows me away each time.Kyle - Wausau, Wi
long live bob dylanCody - Hagerstown, Md
It's so interesting to me how all of you people think that you have all of the facts right, like where he got his name from and stupid trivial things like that. Bob has different answers to the same questions asked to him. That's what makes him so mysterious and almost mythical. He doesn't want to let people know the "real" answer is if there is one at all. At the end of the day, the facts of his life shouldn't matter. His songs are what hold up and they always will. He has changed the way I think about music and I have a great deal of respect for his music.Erin - Charlotte, Nc
Dylan had two #2 records as an artist: "Like a Rollin' Stone," and "Rainy Day Women" (Everybody Must Get Stoned). "Mr. Tambourine Man" was a #1 hit for the Byrds.Garrett - Nashville, Tn
"Shes got everything she needs, shes an artist she don't look back," makes me think of so much. A song a woman would want her man to attribute to her. My favorite song by Bob Dylan and I still don't know the name. Mentioned in the Martin Scorcese film "No Direction Home," is the fact that during the era of Dylan, while all the rock bands were singing about sex drugs and rock 'n roll, Bob Dylan was singing songs about everything else. In my own opinion, whether a given song performed by Bob was written by him or not, it comes through with a vibracne that only his killer voice can provide. To me, he gets away with the scheme of re-making a song.Danci - Okc, Ok
"
Dylan did to have a #1 record. It was Planet Waves, which he recorded with The Band in 1974. However, he never had a #1 song (at least, with him singing it. Dylan songs, when covered by other artists, have gone to #1). Closet he ever got was Like a Rolling Stone which crawled to #2."

...that's not true...
Marko - Clarence, Ny
Miriam, I totally agree with you. I wish I was born back then to fully experience what it was like when Bob Dylan was in his 20s and so cute. I'm only 14.Riley - Naval Reserve, Sc
bob dylan is one of the greatest lyricists of all time. he is excellent. i love him. his music has meaning.Meaghan - Melbourne, Australia
I love Bobby D. I wish I could marry him. But hey I'm only 15. He was so cute when he was young, as in, in his 20s. I dont care that he's paranoid.Miriam - Calgary, Canada
His song All Along The Watchtower that was made famous by Hendrix is awesome. Don't get me wrong, what Jimi did with it was amazing, but it lacks the harmonica which makes Dylans version priceless...Pat - Westmont, Nj
Yeah, he does have a good voice... sometimes.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
o and you know that bob dylan movie that just came out? no direction home? yeah that movie has this footage of kennedy getting out and shaking my dad's family's hands (my dad filmed it) and it happened to be the last kennedy footage before he was assassinated because he got out and shook my dad's family's hands on his way to the airport so the movie used it. yeah...just a random fact...Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
bob dylan's lyrics are awesome. and i really like his voice. i mean...hes not exactly the greatest singer in the world...but i like what he did with his voice. it sounds pretty cool.Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
Zimmy's profound influence is reflected in the myriad of minds penetrated first by his lyrical genius...we few shall always understand him.Pockmark - Duluth, Mn
Dylan did to have a #1 record. It was Planet Waves, which he recorded with The Band in 1974. However, he never had a #1 song (at least, with him singing it. Dylan songs, when covered by other artists, have gone to #1). Closet he ever got was Like a Rolling Stone which crawled to #2.Dylan - Oxford, England
Truly and honestly one of the BEST songwriters ever. I know millions of people must have already come to that conclusion, but I am impressed so much every time I listen to his music. I can really say that Dylan has given me this will to write freely, to write about what I see and what i feel. In the words of the master: None of us will ever fully be able to write about all we see or feel, but at least we're trying. I<3BobDylanJulie - Chicago, Il
Bob Dylan is referred to as "The Jester" in the Don McLean Song, American Pie, because of his frequent use of jokers, jesters or clowns in his lyrics.

"When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean".

This comes from the Red Windbreaker on one of his albums that is identical to James Dean's in A Rebel Without a Cause.

"And a voice that came from you and me"

This is refering to the folk style he sings.

"Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown"

This is on how Dylan took Elvis Presley's place as the number one performer.

"With the jester on the sidelines in a cast"

This is about Dylans Motorcycle accident that kept him from making new songs for quite some time.
Joe - Gibbons, Canada
Bob Dylan is the greatest man alive.
corrie pedersen seaside oregon
Corrie - Seaside, Or
In addition to being a famous rodeo star, Bob Dylan also handed out shopping carts at Wal-Mart in the late 80's after being dumped from his record label for moonlighting with the Traveling Wilbury's.Chuck - Mtn. View, Ar
Check out Dylan's Shot of Love, Slow Train Coming, and Saved. All are from the late 70's to early 80's. He may not have been a full blown born again Christian, but clearly there is something going on here. These three albums are a far cry from what he had been doing and also what he has done since.Tony - St. Cloud, Mn
A comment about Bob not being a born again Christian. I guess only Bob and God know the answer to this one. But to decide for him based on political leanings would not be accurate. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter claims to be a born again christian as well.Tim - Yorkton , Canada
i read no direction home and bob says he didn't took his name from dylan thomas...i like blood on the tracks,desire,bringing it all back home,highway 61,the freewheelin'...but i'm from croatia,i never saw him play live and i didn't read chronicles because here in croatia you can't buy it...too bad...Sara - Split, Croatia
Born, oh and Dylan is the greatest songwriter of all time, see him live if you get the chance. If you don't have any Dylan CDs and don't know what to get, i say start with "The Essential Bob Dylan." If you like that get "Highway 61 Revisited(is that a Brave New World reference), "Bringin' it all Back Home," and "Freewhealen?."John - Shelby, Nc
I have read cronicles and he says that he was originally going to call himself Robert Ayllen because it sounded like the name of a king. He decided to go with Dylan because he had an uncle Dillion. He does say that he bets Dylan Thomas was bord Dillion and changed it for the same reason, more distinctive.John - Shelby, Nc
Bob Dylan did not become a "born-again" christian. In fact, his christian beliefs are much closer to modern liberal theology, than with the likes of the fundamentalism of Jerry Falwell and that ilk. He has given generous donations to the democratic candidates in the last 2 presidental campaigns.Gerry - Boston, Ma
Josh from Hauula, HI--sorry to burst your bubble since you are so confident in yourself, but you obviously haven't read Dylan's recent memoir "Chronicles." In it on pages 78 and 79, he tells how he picked up the name Bob Dylan, and Dylan Thomas did play a role in his choosing of his name.Blind Boy Grunt - Anywhere, La
"Blonde on Blonde" was the first double album ever released in rock. (1966) At the same time Dylan was recording the album, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were at work on the double album Freak Out!, released two months after Blonde On Blonde.Dc - Hilo, Hi
Congrats to Dylan for "Like a Rolling Stone" making the number 1 spot in Rolling Stones Top 500 songs of all time. (December 2004 issue)Reagan - San Marcos, Tx
I had a friend working at a venue where Dylan was playing recently. All staff working that night were told by Dylan's entourage that they were not allowed to look him in the eyes. It was implied that he was highly paranoid. There was some other odd detail or rule, but I can't recall it right now.Rachel - Boston, Ma
Bob Dylan Performed "The Times are Changing" Live for the Queen of England. That kicks ass.Tyler - Duluth, Mn
I'm completely serious about below, I read it in a biography in which Bob says "Make sure you clear that up in this book, I did not take my name from him!"Josh - Hauula, Hi
Bob didn't actually get his name from Dylan Thomas, he had an uncle named Dillon and he liked the name. He changed the spelling later for looks. He's read Dylan Thomas writings, but didn't love it.Josh - Hauula, Hi
Not many people know Bob Dylan was a successful rodeo star before he became a singer.Emory - Baltimore, Md
hes amazing no matter what man...this guy is an amazing poet, and although hes confusing at times he is one of my biggest influences, and he still puts on a good show, i saw him at the eagles ballroom in march 2004 it was amazing!Shawn - Milwaukee, Wi
Easy fact; Jacob Dylan is the lead singer for the "Wallflowers" YA you guessed it, That's Bobs son.Don - Pittsburgh, Pa
Hard to believe this genius never had a number one record.Christine - Chicago, Il
Bob Dylan seems to include jokers and clowns in many of his songs, it must be some kind of superstition..Aditya - Dubai, Other
Dylan also went under the name "Lucky Wilbury" and "Boo Wilbury" when he was part of the group, the Traveling Wilburys, along with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Roy OrbisonGeoff - Adelaide, Australia
My friend Chia has a crush on Bobby D...
and Mick Jagger
Danny - Grass Valley, Ca