Bob Dylan is a singer, songwriter, and artist who has become a music legend. However, very few fans actually know that his birth name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, but that is what it is. The “Mr. Tamborine Man” singer was born in Duluth, Minnesota on the 24th of May 1941 and his parents were European Jews – Abram and Beatrice Zimmerman. Dylan also has a younger brother named David Benjamin Zimmerman, who was born five years after him in 1946. He attended Hibbing High School in Hibbing which was where he grew up as the family had moved there two years after David was born. He graduated from high school in 1959 and obtained his college education at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
At age eleven, Bob Dylan was given piano lessons by his cousin, Harriet Rutstein and as he learned, he began to imitate his Little Richard who was one of the early rock stars that influenced him, alongside Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. He performed in his high school dances and when he went to college, he continued performing at local bars in town as “Bob Dillon.”
Music Career and Albums
In a bid to pursue a music career, Bob Dylan left college in 1960 and moved to New York. There, he developed a personal relationship with the famous folk singer, Woody Guthrie who was hospitalized at the time. Bob visited Guthrie regularly and through their friendship, he met a host of other musicians who helped him master the art of songwriting. One of the songs he wrote at that time was written to the sick Guthrie which he titled “Song to Woody.”
He would later sign a contract with Columbia Records in 1961 and adopt the stage name “Bob Dylan” for which he was famed. The following year, he released his first album title after him. The album sold only 5,000 copies and he was almost dropped by the label. He released his second album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” in May 1963. Dylan’s third album “The Times They Are A-Changin” revealed the political side of the man as it gave credence to the political protest in those days. His image was even more enhanced by his association with Joan Baez, in 1963.
“Another Side of Dylan” was recorded and released in 1964 and almost no political overtures in it when compared with the preceding album. The next album “Bringing It All Back Home” saw Bob Dylan changed his style in favor of the electric sound which had a poor reception from his fans. he album Highway 61 Revisited (1965) had the well-received track “Like a Rolling Stone” – which peaked at #2 in the U.S. and #4 in the UK charts – on it.
He released his next album “Blonde on Blonde” in 1966 and it saw Dylan at his best, however, he withdrew from the music scene for almost one year following a bike accident he had near his New York home that almost cost him his life. He never went on another musical tour for eight years until 1974, although he still released seven albums in that time. The album Planet Waves which he used to embark on his first tour since the mishap has gone down as the best album he’s ever made.
His separation from his wife, Sara Lownds led him to seek solace in the arms of his Lord and Savior, and in 1979, Bob Dylan declared that he was a born-again Christian. His next album, which was his first gospel album. The singer has released a total of 38 albums with the latest being Triplicate (2017).
Awards and Recognitions
Bob Dylan’s first Christianity-themed album Slow Train Coming (1979) won him a Grammy award – his first Grammy nod ever. His next two albums – Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981) – would also anchor around his newly found faith in Jesus Christ.
He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1982 and 1989 respectively. His 1993 effort “World Gone Wrong,” won him another Grammy in 1994 for Best Traditional Folk Album. His album “Time Out of Mind” released in 1997 earned Bob Dylan three Grammy Awards. He also got a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nod for the 2000 single Things Have Changed in the Best Original Song category
Other awards and recognitions include the Kennedy Center Honors – which he received in 1997 as the first rock star to ever receive such award – considered to be the highest award for artistic excellence. In 2012, former US president, Barack Obama, granted him the Presidential Medal of Freedom and when he received the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 13, 2016, Bob Dylan did not only receive an award which has eluded Americans since novelist Toni Morrison received it in 1993, he also became the musician to become a Nobel Laurette.
In 1971, Dylan published a 137-page experimental novel tilted Tarantula. He also took the time to chronicle his life’s journey in a memoir that will be released in three volumes. The first part Chronicles: Volume One was released in 2004. He has published several books on the lyrics of his songs and also on his artworks. He sanctioned the release of a documentary film directed by Martin Scorsese in 2005. The film was titled No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.
Where is Bob Dylan Now, Is He Dead?
No, Bob Dylan is not dead. It will come as a surprise to many of Bob Dylan’s fans that Dylan is an artist. Did you say that is already obvious? Sorry, I did not mean a music artist. Bob Dylan is a sculptor! Since he slowed down on the music scene so many fans have been wondering where he is now and what he is up to. So, now you have it. Dylan these days is keeping busy in a Los Angeles studio where he sculpts gates. And he exhibits them in a free-for-all exhibition which he holds from time to time. The first of its kind was held in a London gallery and it was dubbed “Mood Swings.” (Mood swings indeed!)
Dylan has been painting for decades now (and BTW, he his prolific at it) but it was never a part of his public life – maybe until now. And as a matter of preference, his arts of interest are gates. The fact could be seen portrayed in some of his lyrics – like his 1965 single titled Gates of Eden.
Family – Wife, Son, Children
Bob Dylan was married twice. His first marriage was to a Playboy model named Sara Lownds on November 22, 1965. The union produced four children which were born just over a year apart from each other – Jesse Byron (January 6, 1966), Anna Lea (July 11, 1967), Samuel Isaac Abram (July 30, 1968), and Jakob Luke (December 9, 1969). There was also an adopted daughter from Sara’s former marriage – Maria Lownds, born on October 21, 1961. The marriage was over just after 12 years in 1977.
In 1986, Bob Dylan fell in love with one of his backup singers, Carolyn “Carol” Dennis, and it led to the altar. They had a daughter together, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan on January 31, 1986, before they got married secretly on June 4, 1986. And even though it ended in a divorce in 1992, it was not until 2001 that it was revealed that Dylan has a second marriage.
There are other public relationships Dylan got involved in. First was with Suze Rotolo She was his first official relationship. Bob Dylan who is never one to flaunt his relationships, immortalize Rotolo on the cover of his The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album. However, the affair was wrapped up by 1964. After it ended with Rotolo, Dylan began another affair with a then-popular singer, Joan Baez (1963-1965). They took their romance to the stage and performed as duets on several shows.
He also dated Dana Gillespie (1965), Edie Sedgwick (1965-1966), Ruth Tyrangiel (1974-1991), Susan Ross (1990’s), Mavis Staples (N/A), and so on. He was also rumored to be secretly married to Clydie King, one of his backup singers.
Bob Dylan’s Body Facts – Height
Weight: 139 lbs (63 kg)
Height: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Body Stats: 36-12-40 inches (Chest-Arms-Waist)
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Shoe Size/Feet: 8 (US)