Bob Dylan

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Dylan, Bob

Dylan, Bob (dĭlˈən), 1941–, American singer and composer, b. Duluth, Minn., as Robert Zimmerman. Dylan learned guitar at the age of 10 and autoharp and harmonica at 15. After a rebellious youth, he moved to New York City in 1960 and in the early years of the decade began playing in a folk style in Greenwich Village clubs. He turned to performing with an electric rock-and-roll band in 1965. Influenced by such figures as Leadbelly, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, and Woody Guthrie as well as by such early rockers as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard, Dylan, in turn, has had a profound effect on folk and rock music, and is considered one of the world's most influential musicians and songwriters. As a lyricist he captured the cynicism, anger, and alienation of American youth, which reverberated in his harsh vocal delivery and insistent guitar and harmonica accompaniment.

Among Dylan's many social protest songs are “Blowin' in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin'.” Dylan's style evolved from acoustic folk (e.g., “Don't Think Twice”) to folk rock (e.g., “Highway 61 Revisited”), country blues (e.g., “Country Pie”), and hard-driving rock. Enigmatic and reclusive, he became something of a cult figure; he has continued to tour and record. Although many of his later recordings were not well received, his Time out of Mind (1997), Love and Theft (2001), Modern Times (2006, Grammy), and Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020) albums won wide praise. In addition to Grammy, Academy, and Golden Globe awards, he has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012) and the Nobel Prize in Literature (2016). Dylan wrote an early autobiography, Bob Dylan, Self-Portrait (1970), and a late one, Chronicles: Volume One (2004), as well as a work of fiction that combines stream-of-consciousness prose with poetry, Tarantula (1971). Dylan made news in late 2020 when he sold his entire catalog of over 600 songs to Universal Music for an estimated $300 million dollars.


See his Lyrics: 1962–2001 (2004) and Bob Dylan: Lyrics 1961–2012 (2017); J. W. Ellison, ed., Younger than That Now: The Collected Interviews with Bob Dylan (2004) and J. Cott, ed., Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews (2006); biographies by R. Shelton (1986, rev. ed. 2011), B. Spitz (1988), C. Heylin (rev. ed. 2001), H. Sounes (2001, rev. ed. 2011), and D. McDougal (2014); studies by P. Cable (1980), B. Bowden (1982), T. Riley (1992), P. Williams (3 vol., 1994–2004), G. Marcus (1997 and 2005), D. Hajdu (2001), C. Ricks (2004), and S. Wilentz (2010); discographies by M. Krogsgaard (1991), J. Nogowski (1994), B. Hedin, ed. (2004), and D. Dalton (2012); O. Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (2004); M. Scorsese, dir., No Direction Home (documentary, 2005).

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Dylan, Bob (b. Robert Allen Zimmerman)

(1941–  ) folk/rock songwriter, singer; born in Duluth, Minn. He imitated Little Richard on piano at high school dances, changed his name, and dropped out of college to perform folk and country songs at local coffee houses. (Over the years he gave various explanations of the origin of his last name; one was that originally it was "Dillon" after the popular television western lawman, and only later did its spelling change to reflect his admiration for the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.) In 1960 he moved to New York and began visiting legendary folksinger Woody Guthrie in the hospital. He was soon playing his own and Guthrie's songs on guitar in small folk clubs; in the latter he met Joan Baez, who helped advance his career. He achieved a huge following with the albums Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963), with its hit "Blowin' In The Wind," and Times They Are A-Changin' (1964), which established him as the premier folk balladeer of his generation as well as its voice for social protest. Influenced by the Beatles, in 1965 he released Highway 61 Revisited backed by a full rock band; the album included the hits "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Like a Rolling Stone." A prolific songwriter and gifted lyricist, he went on to write many great folk-rock songs of the 1970s and 1980s and to sell many gold albums in rock, country, and even gospel styles. In 1985 he sang at benefit concerts for African famine relief and in 1986 he toured Japan, Australia, and the United States with rock star Tom Petty. He continued to make occasional appearances at benefits and special concerts.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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BRUSSELS, Oct 13 (KUNA) -- The Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016 has been awarded to American folk singer Bob Dylan for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition", the Swedish Academy announced in Stockholm Thursday.