Bob Dylan; from Hibbing to Hall of Fame
On May 24, 1941, a musical legend came into the world. Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman) was born in Duluth, Minnesota to Abram Zimmerman and Beatty Stone. Dylan spent in childhood in his mother’s hometown, Hibbing, Minnesota, after his father was diagnosed with polio.
Dylan spent much of his early childhood listening to the blues, country, and rock and roll on the radio. The budding musician listened to several artists, including Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, and Roy Orbison, thus beginning an appreciation for rock and roll, country, as well as folk music. Woody Guthrie, as it turns out, would be one of Dylan’s inspirations for moving to New York, where Dylan went as far as visiting Guthrie, who was ill with Huntington’s Disease, in the hospital.
As a child, he learned how to play the harmonica and the piano, and he taught himself to play the guitar. Young Dylan formed several bands of his own during his high school years. His band, the Golden Chords performed Elvis Presley and Little Richard covers.
Dylan enrolled in the University of Minnesota in September of 1959, having already developed a strong interest in rock and roll. However, he dropped out after his first year and relocated to New York City, where he performed in various Greenwich City blues clubs. Dylan’s career really took off in the Big Apple. In August of 1962, he legally changed his name from Robert Zimmerman to Bob Dylan.
Although Dylan started out mainly as a folk artist, he began to move towards rock and roll in the mid 1960s, a transition that Dylan claims was inspired by The Beatles and The Byrds. This change took many of his folk fans by surprise. In fact, Dylan appeared onstage at the Newport Festival, where he was booed off due to the fact that he was holding an electric guitar. He later returned to the stage with an acoustic guitar to please the crowd.
A lot of Dylan’s music over the next few decades was inspired by life events, personal experiences, and even religion. His style was fluid and consistently changing. After an almost fatal motorcycle accident in 1966, his music mellowed out after the musician spent an introspective year in recovery.
His song “Sara” on the album Desire was actually an (unsuccessful) attempt to win back his ex-wife, Sara Lowndes, whom he divorced in 1977. After his divorce, the musician claimed to be a born-again Christian, despite his Jewish upbringing. This was around the time that Dylan won his first Grammy Award for his evangelical album Slow Train Coming.
In 1988, Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His induction was presented by none other than Bruce Springsteen, who was heavily influenced and inspired by Bob Dylan.
Today, Bob Dylan remains a musical and cultural icon. He inspires musicians, artists, and people of all walks of life. Go ahead and give him a listen.
This article was produced by Mahee Ferlini who writes about music and literature on her website.