Chronology of Bob Dylan's Life

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bob dylan

Chronology of Bob Dylan's Life

1941 Robert Allen Zimmerman, son of Abram and Beatrice (“Beatty”) Stone, born May 24 in Duluth, Minnesota.

1948 Abram relocates the Zimmerman family to Hibbing, Minnesota where Robert Allen spends the rest of his childhood.

1959 After playing in high school rock bands, he moves to Minneapolis and enrolls at the University of Minnesota. Hearing Odetta in a record store, he trades his electric guitar for an acoustic to begin performing folk music.

1960 Becomes involved in local folk scene, playing the Dinkytown area of Minneapolis. Adopts and performs under the name Bob Dylan (a nod to the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas); legally changes name two years later.

1960 Becomes involved in local folk scene, playing the Dinkytown area of Minneapolis. Adopts and performs under the name Bob Dylan (a nod to the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas); legally changes name two years later.

1961 Moves to New York where he seeks out his ailing idol, Woody Guthrie. Begins performing regularly at folk clubs and coffee houses of Greenwich Village. Becomes romantically involved with the 17-year-old Suze Rotolo, whose political and artistic commitments make a profound impression on Dylan; the relationship survives many rough patches until the summer of 1964. His September show at Gerde’s Folk City reviewed favorably by Robert Shelton in the New York Times; signed to a record deal with Columbia by John Hammond.

1962 First album, Bob Dylan, featuring two original songs, “Talking New York” and “Song to Woody,” and covers of traditional folk material, released. Sells only 5,000 copies. Dylan referred to as “Hammond’s Folly.”

1963 Releases The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan in May; contains mostly originals (“Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”) with two covers (“Corrina, Corrina” and “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance”). Refuses to play the Ed Sullivan Show after an attempt to censor his set list. Joan Baez invites Dylan to tour with her; they become romantically involved. Performs at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August.

1964 The Times They Are A-Changin’ released. Meets the Beatles at Kennedy Airport in New York; reportedly introduces the group to marijuana. Another Side of Bob Dylan appears, marking the beginnings of his turn from the folk genre.

1965 Dylan gives “Mr. Tambourine Man” to Roger McGuinn; it becomes a major hit for the Byrds. Ends relationship with Baez; marries Sara Lowndes (sometimes spelt “Lownds”). Releases Bringing It All Back Home in March; the album has a decidedly different sound from the previous folk recordings, featuring heavy electric arrangements alongside some acoustic tracks. Dylan is booed when he performs an electric set at the Newport Folk Festival. Releases the all-electric Highway 61 Revisited with the definitive single “Like a Rolling Stone” in August. Hires backing band the Hawks (later the Band) featuring Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm for tour supporting the album.

1966 Records Blonde on Blonde in Nashville. Embarks on a world tour where he performs split sets at every stop, first performing solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica, then, backed by the Hawks, delivering a high-voltage electric set. In July, mysteriously crashes his Triumph 55 motorcycle outside Woodstock, NY. Dylan begins withdrawal from public performing and recording.

1967 While recovering, records several sessions with the Hawks in their nearby Woodstock basement (which become the first widely distributed bootlegs); sessions later released by Columbia as The Basement Tapes (1975). In October and November records John Wesley Harding in Nashville.

1968 In January, appears for the first time in public since his crash, performing three songs at the Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert.

1969 Releases an all-country album, Nashville Skyline. Appears on the first episode of Johnny Cash’s television show in May, performing three songs with the host. Headlines the Isle of Wight festival in England in August, having rejected offers to perform at the Woodstock Music Festival.

1970 Self-Portrait, an album comprised mostly of covers, is released and poorly received. New Morning released to more favorable reviews. On June 9, receives honorary doctorate in music from Princeton University.

1971 Performs at ex-Beatle George Harrison’s benefit concert for Bangladesh. The single “George Jackson” is his only studio release of the year. Conducts recording sessions with Allen Ginsberg (still unreleased).

1972 Worked on Sam Peckinpah’s film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, providing the songs (released on the 1973 soundtrack album) and acting as “Alias.”

1973 Records Planet Waves (released in January 1974) with the Band, and begins rehearsing for a supporting tour after leaving Columbia for the Asylum label.

1974 The Bob Dylan and the Band tour recorded and released as Before the Flood. Begins recording Blood on the Tracks (1975) in September, once again on the Columbia label.

1975 Visits boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter in prison and pens “Hurricane,” a single depicting the fighter’s wrongful conviction in a triple-murder case in Paterson, NJ. Embarks on Rolling Thunder Revue tour, featuring T-Bone Burnett, “Ramblin’ ” Jack Elliott, Allen Ginsberg, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez.

1976 As the Rolling Thunder Revue continues, Dylan releases Desire featuring collaborations with playwright Jacques Levy. It is his last number 1 album for thirty years. Appears at the Band’s farewell concert, documented by Martin Scorsese (The Last Waltz).

1978 Releases Street Legal. Marriage to Sara ends in divorce. Renaldo and Clara, a four-hour film directed by Dylan, using concert footage of the Rolling Thunder Revue and starring himself alongside Joan Baez, is released to poor reviews.

1979 From January to April, participates in Bible study classes at the Vineyard School of Discipleship in Reseda, CA. Releases