Bob Dylan is an American songwriter, singer, artist, and writer. He has been influential in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when his songs chronicled social unrest. Early songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving behind his initial base in the American folk music revival, his six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone", recorded in 1965, enlarged the range of popular music.post
Dylan's lyrics incorporate a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture. Initially inspired by the performances of Little Richard and the songwriting of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, Dylan has amplified and personalized musical genres. His recording career, spanning more than 50 years, has explored the traditions in American song—from folk, blues, and country togospel, rock and roll, and rockabilly to English, Scottish, and Irish folk music, embracing even jazz and the Great American Songbook. Dylan performs with guitar, keyboards, and harmonica. Backed by a changing lineup of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed the Never Ending Tour. His accomplishments as a recording artist and performer have been central to his career, but songwriting is considered his greatest contribution.
Since 1994, Dylan has published six books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries. As a musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has also receivednumerous awards including eleven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. Dylan has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. In 2016, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first songwriter to receive this honor.
Bob Dylan was born and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, on the Mesabi Range west of Lake Superior. He has a younger brother, David. Dylan's paternal grandparents, Zigman and Anna Zimmerman, emigrated from Odessa, in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine), to the United States following the anti-Semitic pogroms of 1905. His maternal grandparents, Ben and Florence Stone, wereLithuanian Jews who arrived in the United States in 1902. In his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan wrote that his paternal grandmother's maiden name was Kirghiz and her family originated from Kağızman district of Kars Province in northeastern Turkey.
Dylan's parents, Abram Zimmerman and Beatrice "Beatty" Stone, were part of a small, close-knit Jewish community. They lived in Duluth until Robert was six, when his father had polio and the family returned to his mother's hometown, Hibbing, where they lived for the rest of Robert's childhood. In his early years he listened to the radio—first to blues and country stations from Shreveport, Louisiana and later, when he was a teenager, to rock and roll. He formed several bands while attending Hibbing High School. In the Golden Chords, he performed covers of songs by Little Richard and Elvis Presley.Their performance of Danny & the Juniors' "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay" at their high school talent show was so loud that the principal cut the microphone. In 1959, his high school yearbook carried the caption "Robert Zimmerman: to join 'Little Richard'.The same year, as Elston Gunnn , he performed two dates with Bobby Vee, playing piano and clapping.
Zimmerman moved to Minneapolis in September 1959 and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. His focus on rock and roll gave way to American folk music. In 1985, he said:
He began to perform at the Ten O'Clock Scholar, a coffeehouse a few blocks from campus, and became involved in the Dinkytown folk music circuit.
During his Dinkytown days, Zimmerman began introducing himself as "Bob Dylan".[a 1] In his memoir, Dylan acknowledged that he had been influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Explaining his change of name in a 2004 interview, Dylan remarked, "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.