Born on May the 24th, 1941, as Robert Allen Zimmerman.
We're sure everyone reading this will know that he is a singer/songwriter, plus artist and writer.
He has been an influence over popular music and culture for more than five decades, with most of his most popular and most highly celebrated work dating back to the 1960s, this being a time when a lot of his songs chronicled social and political unrest, but Dylan himself denied suggestions from journalists that he was a spokesman for that generation.
Songs from his early days, for example "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" turned into anthems for the American civil rights and anti-war movements.
Moving away from his initial roots in American Folk, Dylan produced a six-minute long anthemic single "Like a Rolling Stone", this altered the course of popular music in 1965, his mid-1960s music, was backed by Rock musicians of thr time, and they reached the top end of the USA music charts while also attracting condemnation and criticism from members of the Folk movement.
His lyrical themes have taken in a mixture of various political, social, philosophical and literary influences, they have also defied exisiting Pop music ideals and appealed to the those who remain part of society's counterculture.
At first, he was inspired by the performances from Little Richard, as well as the songwriting talents of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson and Hank Williams, Dylan has almost created his own musical genre.
His career has spanned over 50 years, and has explored the traditions found in American music, including Folk, Blues, and Country, plus Gospel, Rock n Roll, and Rockabilly, but Dylan has also explored English, Scottish, and Irish Folk music, he's even taken some of his influence from Jazz and Swing.
A great quote about Dylan, from another legend, Paul Simon, claimed that Dylan's early compositions virtually took over the folk genre;- "Dylan's early songs were very rich ... with strong melodies. 'Blowin' in the Wind' has a really strong melody. He so enlarged himself through the folk background that he incorporated it for a while. He defined the genre for a while."
David Bowie, in his musical tribute, "Song for Bob Dylan", described Dylan's singing as "a voice like sand and glue".
Major musicians who have acknowledged Dylan's importance have included;- John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Syd Barrett, Joni Mitchell, and Tom Waits.
The Never Ending Tour
Dylan's performances are with guitar, keyboards and harmonica, mostly backed by an ever changing line-up of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late '80s on what some have titled "The Never Ending Tour".
On the "The Never Ending Tour", which kicked off in 1988, Dylan has played roughly 100 dates a year for the entirety of the '90s and 2000s, an impressive schedule, and lot harder than most performers, this means, that by May 2013, Dylan and his band had played more than 2,500 shows, these shows have included;
- Long-time bassist Tony Garnier
- Multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron
- Guitarist Charlie Sexton.
To the confusion and sometimes dismay of some of his audience, his shows can be unpredictable, as he likes to alter his arrangements and adjust his vocal approach show after show.
Covers by other Artists
As a recording artist and performer he is undoubtably highly accomplished, and his achievements have been central to his career, but his greatest contribution to the world of music is thought of as his songwriting, having been covered by more artists than any other musician in history, it has often been joked that every recording artist has to do a Dylan cover at some point in their career, the most famous being;-
- Jimi Hendrix with his version of "All Along The Watchtower", probably more well known than the Dylan original
- The Red Hot Chili Peppers doing a version of "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
- The Byrds, with their legendary version of "Mr. Tambourine Man"
- Joan Baez, with "Love Is A Four Letter Word"
- Julie Driscoll & The Brian Auger Trinity, and "This Wheel’s On Fire"
- Johnny Cash & June Carter, and their cover of - "It Ain’t Me Babe"
- Manfred Mann, and one of their most famous recordings being their version of - "Mighty Quinn"
- Eric Clapton, with the classic version of - "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
- Pearl Jam and "Forever Young"
- There is a list of covers of Bob Dylan songs, too long to list, and in fact, many artists will record a number of different Dylan songs.
Dylan is also a renowned artist, since 1994, he has published six books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries.
Dylan also published the book; Tarantula, a work of prose poetry, Chronicles: Volume One. The first part of his memoirs, several books of the lyrics of his songs, he has also been the subject of many biographies and critical studies of his work.
Awards and Credits
As a musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the biggest selling artists of all time.
He has received numerous awards including Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Award.
He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The Pulitzer Prize jury 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 May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
Studio Albums List
- Bob Dylan (1962)
- The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)
- The Times They Are a-Changin' (1964)
- Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
- Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
- Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
- Blonde on Blonde (1966)
- John Wesley Harding (1967)
- Nashville Skyline (1969)
- Self Portrait (1970)
- New Morning (1970)
- Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
- Dylan (1973)
- Planet Waves (1974)
- Blood on the Tracks (1975)
- The Basement Tapes (1975)
- Desire (1976)
- Street Legal (1978)
- Slow Train Coming (1979)
- Saved (1980)
- Shot of Love (1981)
- Infidels (1983)
- Empire Burlesque (1985)
- Knocked Out Loaded (1986)
- Down in the Groove (1988)
- Oh Mercy (1989)
- Under the Red Sky (1990)
- Good as I Been to You (1992)
- World Gone Wrong (1993)
- Time Out of Mind (1997)
- Love and Theft (2001)
- Modern Times (2006)
- Together Through Life (2009)
- Christmas in the Heart (2009)
- Tempest (2012)
- Shadows in the Night (2015)