Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in 1941 and is a singer and a songwriter who has been very influential in the pop music culture for over five decades. Dylan’s youth was spent in Duluth and Hibbing Minnesota where he listened ardently to the radio as a youth, to blues and country stations.
He and some friends formed several bands in high school and sang covers of Elvis Presley and Little Richard. In one talent show, the music was so loud that the principal cut the microphone.
While attending the University of Minnesota he performed at the Ten O’Clock Scholar, a coffeehouse near the campus, and got heavily involved in the Folk Music scene. It was here that he changed his name to Bob Dylan, being influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas, according to Dylan.
In 1960, Dylan quit college after the first year, and in 1961 went to New York where he met his idol Woodie Guthrie, who was in the hospital with Huntington’s Disease.
Dylan began playing in clubs in Greenwich Village and met people who influenced his style such as Odetta, The New Lost City Ramblers, and Tommy Makem. He had a few starts at recording, but they either broke even, or just barely didn’t.
In 1962, Dylan made two important decisions that greatly influenced his career. He legally changed his name to Robert Dylan and he signed a management contract with Albert Grossman.
In 1962, Dylan made an appearance in the UK, and at the end of a performance he performed his new song, “Blowin’ In the Wind,” one of its first public performances. The song became a hit for Peter Paul and Mary and Dylan was off to the races as a songwriter and performer.
Dylan became known for topical songs, or as they were called “protest songs” against the Vietnam War and other political and social situations such as the later collaboration with Joan Baez during the Civil Rights Movement.