On Air Now
Smooth Breakfast with Jenni Falconer 6am - 10am
22 April 2021, 15:29 | Updated: 8 February 2022, 16:57
Bob Dylan is one of the world's most popular and respected musicians of all time.
The American musician is often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, and he hasn't been far away from pop culture for over 50 years.
First emerging in the 1960s, Bob Dylan's songs such as 'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'The Times They Are a-Changin' became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements of the era.
He was one of the first mainstream artists to move away from traditional pop music conventions, and sang songs about various political, social and philosophical topics, inspiring countless others.
After moving into electric rock in the mid-1960s, he released three hugely influential albums of the decade: Bringing It All Back Home, Blonde on Blonde, and Highway 61 Revisited, the latter of which included the iconic single 'Like a Rolling Stone'.
Over the years, he has tried out various genres ranging from jazz to gospel to country, and is now one of the best-selling artists of all time.
During his career, he has won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 10 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar. In 2016, he was even awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".
Bob Dylan was born on May 24, 1941. He celebrates his 80th birthday in 2021.
His birth name was Robert Allen Zimmerman, and he was born in Duluth, Minnesota.
Bob's paternal grandparents, Anna Kirghiz and Zigman Zimmerman, emigrated from Odessa in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) to the US in the early 1900s. His maternal grandparents, Florence and Ben Stone, were Lithuanian Jews who arrived in the US in 1902.
His father Abram Zimmerman, and his mother Beatrice 'Beatty' Stone, were part of a small Jewish community. They lived in Duluth until Bob was six, when his father had polio and the family returned to his mother's hometown in Hibbing.
There, his father and paternal uncles ran a furniture and appliances store. It was here that he first listened to the radio to blues and country stations.
Bob Dylan - Like A Rolling Stone (Live at Newport 1965)
Bob Dylan formed various bands at high school. With the Golden Chords, he performed covers of songs by Little Richard, and Elvis Presley. Their performance of Danny & the Juniors' 'Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay' at their high school talent show was apparently so loud, the principal cut off the microphone. What a square.
At his fraternity, he began to perform at a coffeehouse near campus, and began to introduce himself as 'Bob Dylan'. He later explained that he wanted to use the surname Dillon before finding poems by Dylan Thomas, and decided upon that less common spelling.
He said: "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free."
In May 1960, he dropped out of college at the end of his first year. The following year, he travelled to New York City to perform and visit his idol Woody Guthrie.
He soon began playing at clubs around Greenwich Village, and became close to other folk singers such as Dave Van Ronk, Fred Neil, Odetta, and the Clancy Brothers.
After positive reviews and appearing as a backing artist on some albums, he signed a record deal with Columbia Records.
Bob Dylan first married Sara Lownds, a model and a secretary, in November 1965. The couple eventually divorced in June 1977.
He then married his backup singer Carolyn Dennis in June 1986, but divorced in October 1992. Their marriage and child remained a secret until the publication of Howard Sounes's biography Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, in 2001.
With first wife Sara, Bob Dylan had four children together: Jesse Byron Dylan (born 1966), Anna Lea (born 1967), Samuel Isaac Abram (born 1968), and Jakob Luke (born 1969).
He also adopted Sara's daughter from a previous marriage, Maria Lownds (later Dylan, born 1961).
Jakob later became well known as the lead singer of the band the Wallflowers, while Jesse is a film director and business executive.
With second wife Carolyn Dennis, he had a daughter, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan, who was born in 1986.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Bob Dylan has a net worth of around £252 million ($350 million).