Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota on May 24th, 1941. In 1947, the Zimmermans moved to a middle class neighborhood in nearby Hibbing. At fourteen Bob took up the acoustic guitar and, after teaching himself the basics, purchased an electric guitar from Sears Roebuck. Influenced by rock and roll and rhythmn and blues, he soon formed bands with other local youths, the first of which was called The Golden Chords. Influenced by James Dean, Hank Williams, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and other luminaries, teenage Bob begins to think about life outside the confines of 1950s small-town America. After graduation from high school in 1959, Bob attended the University of Minneapolis. He found a bohemian scene flourishing in the hip section known as Dinkytown. During his brief stint as a college student, Bob became interested in traditional and American folk music. After reading Woody Guthrie's autobiography, Bound for Glory, Bob's music was heavily influenced by Guthrie's. In December 1960, Bob left Minneapolis, traveling to Chicago and/or Madison, Wisconsin before arriving in Greenwich Village during a bitterly cold and snowy winter. His intention was to visit Guthrie, who lay dying of Huntington's chorea in a New Jersey hospital, and begin his musical career. He succeeded on both counts--befriending Guthrie and becoming one of America's most legendary musicians.
After performing at the Cafe Wha? on his first night in town, Bob continues to play in Village coffeehouses using the name Bob Dylan. Before long he receives his first paid gig at NYU's Student Center, then as the support act for John Lee Hooker at Gerde's Folk City. He performs at Carnegie Hall to a sparse audience of 53 people, mostly friends. He plays harmonica on Harry Belafonte's album Midnight Special. While playing harmonica at a session for Carolyn Hester at Columbia Records, Dylan impresses producer John Hammond, who signs him to a five-year contract. His debut recording, entitled Bob Dylan, contains two original songs and an assortment of blues and traditional covers.
Bob Dylan is released but the album sells poorly and Dylan is known as 'Hammond's folly' around the Columbia studios. By this Dylan has moved beyond Guthrie's influence. He performs less covers and more originals, to wide acclaim on the coffeehouse scene. During this time that he writes one of his most famous songs, "Blowin' In The Wind". He continues to write and record songs for his second album--which will be all originals save for the traditional "Corrina, Corrina"--and to perform in coffeehouses.
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is released and sells quite well. Many of the songs are influenced by Dylan's relationship with girlfriend Suze Rotolo and the loneliness he experiences during her extended trip to Italy. He performs at a civil rights rally in Greenwood, Mississippi and at the Newport Folk Festival. Dylan also visits Woodstock for the first time, and enjoys the atmosphere of the artists' community long before the Summer of Love invasion. He meets Joan Baez at Monterey Folk Festival and appears as a guest at several of her concerts. The two become romantically involved, although Suze is kept in the dark.
The Times They Are A-Changin' is released, followed six months later by the fourth, Another Side of Bob Dylan. The songs on the latter are a departure from his earlier political work. He performs at the Newport Folk Festival, disappointing the folkies with songs of personal experience, like "Mr. Tambourine Man", rather than the expected protest material. The pressure of Dylan's increasing fame causes Suze Rotolo to end their relationship. He spends the summer in Woodstock with Joan Baez, who appears as a guest at his concert in New York's Philharmonic Hall. Dylan meets the Beatles in New York City, and introduces the Fab Four to cannabis.
Fifth and sixth albums, Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited, are released with electric backing instruments. Dylan tours in England, and for the last time plays entirely acoustic sets. In London, Dylan purchases mod clothing in shops on the fashionable Carnaby Street. The tour is filmed by D.A. Pennebaker for the documentary Don't Look Back. The tour marks the end of his relationship with Joan Baez and the beginning of one with Sara. Lowndes, whom he quietly marries in September. Performing at Newport Folk Festival backed by the loudly electric Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Dylan causes an uproar. Although the electric "Like A Rolling Stone" is already a hit, the performance is booed. Dylan begins to tour with The Hawks, later known as The Band.
Blonde On Blonde is released. Dylan continues to tour with The Band and they are consistently booed. A one-hour documentary called Eat the Documentis filmed for ABC, but is never shown on television. In July, he suffers serious injuries from a motorcycle accident and, while recuperating, lives quietly in Woodstock with Sara and their children. He will not return to touring for another eight years.
John Wesley Harding is released at the end of the year. The album is filled with Biblical imagery and has a country music sound. Although he does not tour, Dylan records some songs with The Band in the basement of their house, known as 'Big Pink', in West Saugerties. The tracks are heavily bootlegged and become known as The Basement Tapes. They will not be officially released until 1975.
Dylan performs at the Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall, his first appearance since the accident. He continues to abstain from touring and to live the quiet life of a family man.
Nashville Skyline is released. The songs on the album are decidedly country. The nasal twang sees to have vanished and Nashville Skyline features Dylan singing in a syrupy croon. Dylan is persuaded to appear with the Band at England's Isle of Wight Festival.
Self Portrait is released. It is composed almost entirely of cover songs and is universally panned by critics. New Morning follows and is greeted with more enthusiasm by fans and critics. Dylan, not yet 30, receives an honorary Doctorate of Music from Princeton University. In September, he moves his family from Woodstock, which has become more populated since the Summer of Love, to MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village.
Dylan appears at a benefit concert for Bangla Desh at Madison Square Garden. Five years after he began writing it, Tarantula, a book of poetry and prose, is published. In Manhattan, Eat the Document is screened twice at Academy of Music, and from November 30th, 1971 to December 13th, 1972, at the Whitney museum of American Art. Dylan soon realizes that his fame will not allow him to peacefully live in the Village. His most devoted stalker is A.J. Weberman, who is convinced that Dylan is hooked on heroin and needs to be 'liberated'. Weberman regularly picks through the Dylan family's garbage and assembles large groups of people outside the MacDougal Street townhouse. After repeatedly requesting that Weberman leave him and his family alone, Dylan beats up the self-proclaimed 'garbologist'.
Dylan agrees to act in, and to write the soundtrack for, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. He has a small role as Alias, a printer's apprentice who takes up with the Kid. Filming begins in Durango, Mexico.
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, the soundtrack as well as the movie, is released. "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is the most well-known track from this album of mostly instrumentals. The movie has been heavily edited by the studio, and the songs that Dylan wrote for certain scenes were moved to different locations in the film. When Dylan refuses to renew his contract with Columbia Records, they spitefully release a collection of outtakes and warm-ups under the titleDylan. The songs are covers and the album is received poorly. Knopf publishes Writings and Drawings, a collection of Dylan's lyrics and sketches.
Planet Wavesrecorded with The Band, is released, as well as a live album called Before The Flood. Dylan begins his first tour since 1966 in Chicago, backed by The Band. Persuaded by Phil Ochs, he plays a benefit for the Friends of Chile at Madison Square Garden. Ochs is so afraid Dylan will change his mind that he keeps him locked in a dressing room drinking wine the day of the show, and Dylan's performance is a drunken let-down.
The Basement Tapesis officially released. Blood On The Tracks is released to great acclaim. Many of the songs are inspired by his increasing marital problems. He visits Hurricane Carter, a boxer imprisoned for a murder he claims he did not commit. Carter's plight inspires Dylan to write "Hurricane", and to perform a benefit for Carter's defense fund. Dylan begins collaborating on songs with Jacques Levy. He also forms the Rolling Thunder Revue, a tour entourage that includes Joan Baez, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and assorted friends and colleagues. The Rolling Thunder tour begins in Plymouth, Massachuetses, and concert footage and impromptu scenes are filmed for Dylan's movie, Renaldo and Clara.
Desire is released and remains number 1 on the charts for 35 weeks. It is the result of Dylan's collaboration with Jacques Levy and features Emmy Lou Harris singing backing vocals. Hard Rain, a live album, is also released. Dylan performs at a farewell concert for The Band, which is filmed for later release as The Last WaltzRolling Thunder continues to tour and a second benefit for Hurricane Carter is organized. Poor publicity results caused the Houston Astrodome to be only a quarter full, and the benefit show suffers a fifty-thousand dollar loss.
Renaldo and Clara, edited by Dylan to a ponderous four hours, is released in theaters to mixed reviews. Sara Dylan files for divorce and for custody of the Dylans five children. The divorce is granted, but custody battles drag on.
Street Legalis released, as well as a live album, Bob Dylan At Budokan. Dylan continues to tour in Europe and the Far East.
Dylan begins to take a serious interest in Christianity, which leads to the release of his first gospel album, Slow Train Coming. He becomes a born-again Christian, attends Bible study classes, and prefaces his all-gospel concerts with sermons.
Saved, the second gospel album, is released. Dylan is awarded a Grammy for Best Male Vocalist for "Gotta Serve Somebody", from Slow Train Coming. He continues to perform his gospel songs in concert, but mixes in a few of his previous hits.
Third and last gospel album, Shot of Love, is released. Dylan continues to tour and to preface concerts with sermons.
Dylan appears at the "Peace Sunday" concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl with Joan Baez. In New York City, he is admitted to the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.
Infidels, produced by Mark Knopfler, is released. Dylan appears to have drifted away from Christianity and towards his roots in Judaism. He is photographed wearing a prayer shawl at the bar mitzvah of his son in Jerusalem. His first music video, for "Sweetheart Like You" from Infidels, is released.
A live album called Real Live is released. His second video, for "Jokerman" from Infidels, is released. Dylan prepares to tour Europe with Santana.
Empire Burlesqueis released. Two tracks from this album, "Emotionally Yours," and "When the Night Comes Falling", are made into videos. A 53-track retrospective album called Biograph is released and sells well. Dylan contributes to the recording of "We Are The World" and performs at the Live Aid Benefit with Keith Richards and Ron Wood. He also performs at Farm Aid with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and contributes to Steve Van Zandt's "Artist Against Apartheid" album. At New York's Whitney Museum, a party is thrown to celebrate Dylan's 25-year recording career, and Dylan is presented with a platinum disc for cumulative sales of 3 million records.
Knocked Out Loaded is released. Dylan performs "I Shall be Released" at the Martin Luther King birthday celebration. In March he receives the Founder's Award of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. He begins a tour of the Far East backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Filming begins in Canada for Hearts of Fire, in which Dylan has a starring role as the fictional jaded rock legend Billy Parker.
Dylan appears at a Tribute to George Gershwin at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He performs in Israel for the first time, but the concert is poorly received. Hearts of Fire premieres in London, although Dylan does not attend the opening. The movie is a miserable failure, closing after seven days in London and never released in theatres again.
Down In The Groove, composed of songs written by Robert Hunter, Dylan/Hunter, and a few covers, is released. The Traveling Wilburys: Volume One, the result of a collaboration of Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison is released. Orbison's death in December saddens the Wilburys. Dylan performs at a benefit for the Bridge School to raise funds for handicapped children. The case against Hurricane Carter is finally overturned and Carter is freed.
Dylan and the Dead, a collaboration between Dylan and the Grateful Dead, is released, but the performances of both Dylan and the Dead are not their finest. Oh Mercy, one of his finest electric albums, is also released. Producer Daniel Lanois is partly responsible for the new sound of this album. In May, at the start of his European tour, Dylan surprises everyone by performing wearing a cap with a hood pulled up over it. For the next two years he will continue to appear in this outfit, both at performances, in public, and at studio sessions with old friends like George Harrison and Tom Petty.
Under the Red Sky is released, to a lukewarm reception. One particular track, 'Wiggle Wiggle," is often cited as Dylan's worst-ever song. Also released is The Traveling Wilburys: Volume 3, the second collaboration minus Roy Orbison. Dylan continues his relentless touring.
To the delight of fans and critics, The Bootleg Series, Vols 1-3, Rare and Unreleased 1961-1989 is released. Dylan receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th Grammy Awards ceremony.
Good As I Been To You, a acoustic collection of blues and traditional covers, is released. At Madison Square Garden, Dylan and fellow musicians gather to celebrate his 30-year anniversary in the recording business.
The 30th Anniversary Celebration is released, as is World Gone Wrong, another colection off acoustic blues and traditional covers. An interactive CD-ROM called Highway 61 Revisited is released. In January, Dylan performs at Bill Clinton's first inauguration.
Dylan performs at the Woodstock II Festival. MTV Unplugged is filmed for broadcast on MTV and release as a videotape and album.
MTV Unplugged is released. Dylan tapes "Restless Farewell" for a televised Frank Sinatra birthday tribute.
Dylan is nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In a move that surprised many, he licenses "The Times They Are A-Changin'" for use in a Bank of Montreal television commericial.
Time Out of Mind is released. The album is a favorite with critics and fans and earns Dylan several Grammys. Time Out Of Mind attracts a younger audience to Dylan's music. During the winter, Dylan is hospitalized with a potentially serious heart infection. He recovers to perform before the Pope in November, and to accept a Kennedy Center award in December. He is nominated for the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature, but does not receive it.
On February 25th, Dylan recieves three Grammy awards for Time Out Of Mind, including Best Album. In April, he visits the Children's Hospital Ricrado Guitierrez, where he visits with sick children. Dylan attends Frank Sinatra's funeral on May 20, and the following day he performs "Restless Farewell" in concert as a tribute. Time Out Of Mind reaches platinum sales in June. Dylan receives the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Award in New York City on October 16th. He is nominated for the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, but does not receive it.
The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966 The 'Royal Albert Hall Concert' is released. Dylan tours with Paul Simon, playing large venues and arenas throughout the United States. In May, Dylan plays a concert at the top of a mountain in Ischgl, Austria. 8,000 spectators ascended 7,000 feet to see the performance. On June 30th, he joins Eric Clapton and his band in a performance at the Crossroads Benefit. The two legends play "Crossroads", "Don't Think Twice It's Alright", and "Born In Time". He is nominated for the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature, but does not receive it.
Dylan releases a new single, "Things Have Changed", which he wrote for the sountrack of the movie Wonder Boys. He and Lauryn Hill present the Grammy Award for Best Album to Carlos Santana. Once again Dylan is nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but does not receive it. The Essential Bob Dylan, a compilation album which includes "Things Have Changed," is released. Dylan travels to Sweden to accept the Polar Music Award from Royal Swedish Academy of Music. The Very Best Of Bob Dylan, a compilation album to celebrate the award is released in Sweden only. Another compilation album, Bob Dylan: The Best of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, is released only in Europe. Dylan signs a deal with HBO to star in a one-hour vaudeville-style special featuring music and comedy, but nothing more is ever heard about this project.
Dylan's cover of Dean Martin's "Return To Me", recorded in 2000, is released on the soundtrack album for the television show The Sopranos. His cover of "I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind", also recorded last year, is released on the Hank Williams tribute album Timeless. And finally, his cover of "Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache"," again recorded last year, is released on the tribute album Good Rockin' TonightThe Legacy Of Sun Records. Dylan receives a Golden Globe Award in the category "Best Original Song" for "Things Have Changed" from the film Wonder Boys. "Things Have Changed" also nets Dylan an Oscar award for Best Song. He performs the song and accepts the award via satellite from Australia, where he was touring. Japan Sony Music releases Live 1961-2000: Thirty-nine years of great concert performances, available only in Japan.
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