Dylan, Bob (1941–)

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Bob Dylan (1941–)

Folk singer Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, and released his first album, Bob Dylan, in 1961. Although it featured only two of his own songs, Dylan soon emerged as one of the most important singer-songwriters in the American folk music (see entry under 1960s—Music in volume 4) and rock and roll (see entry under 1950s—Music in volume 3) traditions. Despite having one of the most unusual singing voices of any major performer, as a lyricist Dylan has been compared with poet John Keats (1785–1821). Songs like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" are among the most powerful protest songs of the 1960s.

Criticized by fans for his move to electric instruments in 1965, Dylan has produced over forty official albums, including such critically acclaimed releases as Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks (1975), and Time Out of Mind (1997). In the late 1980s, Dylan formed The Traveling Wilburys along with George Harrison (1943–2001), Jeff Lynne (1947–), Roy Orbison (1936–1988), and Tom Petty (1952–); the band recorded two albums. With few exceptions, the quality of his work has remained high, most recently exemplified by the 2001 Grammy Award–winning album Love & Theft. In 2001, he continued to play live to sell-out crowds.

—Chris Routledge

For More Information

Aaseng, Nathan. Bob Dylan, Spellbinding Songwriter. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1987.

BobDylan.com.http://www.bobdylan.com (accessed March 18, 2002).

Pennebaker, D. A., director. Don't Look Back (video). Hollywood, CA: Paramount, 1986.

Richardson, Susan. Bob Dylan. New York: Chelsea House, 1995.

Shelton, Robert. No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. New York: Da Capo Press, 1997.