Biography

Young Bob Dylan playing a guitar in the studio.

About Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is one of our culture’s most influential and groundbreaking artists. In the decades since he first burst into the public’s consciousness via New York City’s Greenwich Village folk music scene in the early 1960s, Bob Dylan has sold more than 125 million records around the world and amassed a singular body of work that includes some of the greatest and most popular songs the world has ever known.

Early Years

Born in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941, most of Dylan’s childhood was spent in the iron-mining town of Hibbing. Dylan taught himself piano and guitar and played in several bands, attending the University of Minnesota for one year in 1959. He moved to New York in 1961 — heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie and other American folk artists — and began to play at various clubs in the burgeoning folk music scene of Greenwich Village. Signed to Columbia Records by renowned A&R executive John Hammond in 1961, he released his self-titled debut album in 1962. 

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan

Live Performances

Many of Dylan’s early songs were made famous by other artists, such as Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary, whose versions of his classic compositions “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “The Times They Are A Changin’” helped bring the young artist to a larger audience. 

From his earliest performances in Greenwich Village coffee houses, folk festivals and rallies in the early 1960s to his stadium rock concerts of the 1970s and subsequent annual international tours, Dylan established an enduring reputation as one of the world’s great live performers. 

Dylan’s Musical Catalog and Cultural Contribution

He has released more than 50 albums and has written more than 600 songs, some of the most famous being the aforementioned “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “All Along The Watchtower,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Make You Feel My Love.” His songs have been covered more than 6,000 times by artists as diverse as Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, the Staple Singers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Adele and U2. 

Dylan’s contributions to worldwide culture have been recognized and honored numerous times. He received an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University, New Jersey, in 1970 and another from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 2004. President Clinton presented him with a Kennedy Center Honor at the White House in 1997, recognizing the excellence of his contribution to American culture.

Awards and Accolades

In December 2016, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature by the Swedish Academy “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” In 2012, he was awarded America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Barack Obama. In addition to winning 11 Grammy Awards, Dylan has achieved six entries in the Grammy Hall of Fame, which honors recordings of “qualitative or historical significance” at least 25-years-old.

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American Song Archives
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CHANGES TO OUR PRIVACY POLICY

Any changes to our Privacy Policy will be posted on this page and will reflect the date this policy was last modified. This policy was last modified on June 11, 2018.