The American musician and poet is a living legend and myth of the folk and rock scene. In addition to the “Beatles” and the “Stones,” Bob Dylan is one of the essential music history figures of the second half of the 20th century. For his musical achievements he was awarded several “Grammys”; In 2016 he was the first singer-songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for his poetic new creations in the great American song tradition”. His life and work are permeated by numerous breaks and twists, which have also been viewed critically by his audience. As a representative of the former hippie and protest culture, Dylan also made a name for himself through his humanitarian commitment against war and human rights violations. Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmermann on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, USA, to Russian-Jewish immigrants.
His father, Abraham Zimmerman, was a washing machine dealer, and his mother, Beatrice, a housewife. He learned to play the piano in his childhood before switching to the guitar. After high school, Dylan began studying but soon dropped out to wander through Minnesota, Kansas, and Dakota. In New York, he soon got into the beginning folk-rock movement, to whose leading representative he developed. In 1961 he received his first record deal. In 1962 the LP “Bob Dylan” was released. The self-taught musician (vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards) achieved world fame with songs like “Blowin ‘In The Wind.” From 1965 Dylan became rockier in his music. He now wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” and “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” In 1966 he had a severe accident with a motorcycle. His songs dealt with drugs and the dawn of youth. He was considered a dreamer and poet, a typical representative of the rampant hippie movement.
In 1966, Dylan retired for a few years to write new songs. “Mighty Quinn” and other pieces were created that were later made into hits by musicians like Manfred Mann. In 1968 Bob Dylan released a country album: “John Wesley Harding” received – in contrast to its successor “Self Portrait” (1970) – still good reviews. In 1969 Dylan’s son Jakob was born, who later celebrated worldwide success with his band “Wallflowers.” In the early 1970s, Dylan published his book “Tarantula,” which reached number seven on the 1971 bestseller list of “Time” magazine. Dylan was also in the film: In 1972, he starred in the Hollywood film “Pat Garret And Billy, The Kid.” He also delivered with “knockin”’ on heaven.’
In 1974/75, he made a concert tour through the USA. In 1976, Dylan gave two concerts to help fund boxer Rubin Carter’s appeal process, who was not released until 1985 after spending 19 years innocent behind bars. Dylan’s wife, Sara Lowndes, separated from him in 1977, receiving a million-dollar severance payment and custody of the five children. In 1978 Dylan was converted to “Born Again Christians.” The religious orientation was reflected in three of his albums from 1979 to 1981, which consisted of religious singing and gospel accompaniment. For the song “You Gotta Serve Somebody,” he got a “Grammy” for the best rock singer. In the 1980s, the musician turned back to more secular subjects. Dylan held concert marathons in the 1990s. In 1990 Dylan was awarded the highest French cultural award, the “Ordre des Artes et des Lettres.” In the same year, he gave a concert tour in Germany. A year later, his life’s work was honored with a “Grammy.”
In 1992 he gave an anniversary concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. From 1995 to 1998, he received a total of four other “Grammys.” To mark his 30th stage anniversary in 1992, Dylan performed with George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and others in New York’s Madison Square Garden. In 1995 he recorded an “Unplugged” session for MTV and performed at the tribute concert for Frank Sinatra’s 80th birthday. In 1997 Bob Dylan’s album “Time Out Of Mind” was released, with which he achieved another unexpected success. Critics praised the album highly. In May 1997, Dylan had to be treated in hospital for histoplasmosis, the so-called cave disease, a fungal infection of the lungs. But already in August, he played for Pope John Paul II at the World Eucharistic Congress in Bologna (Italy). On his 60th birthday, his record company “Columbia” released the album “Live 1961-2000” in 2001, which contains eleven rare concert recordings from those years.
In 2003 the feature film “Masked and Anonymous” was released, for which Dylan wrote the script together with Larry Charles and took on the leading role. In October 2004, the first part of his three-part autobiography “Chronicles: Volume One” was published. In August 2006, Dylan’s 32nd studio album “Modern Times” was released. On April 8, 2008, he was awarded the Pulitzer Special Prize for his “lyrical compositions.” In 2012, Dylan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On October 13, 2016, the Swedish Academy announced that Dylan would become the first singer-songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his poetic new creations in the great American song tradition.”