Bob Dylan may have been one of the most influential figures in 20th century American music.
For those who don't know, I live in a converted campervan and travel around the country, posting photo diaries of places that I visit.
Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in May 1941 in Duluth MN. Like many young teenagers in the 50s, he was inspired by the music of Elvis Presley and Little Richard, bought his first guitar at age 14, and spent his high school years playing in various local bands, including a few gigs playing piano for teen idol Bobby Vee (who would soon find fame with his hit “Take Good Care of My Baby”).
While at the University of Minnesota, Zimmerman became enamored of folk music, especially Woody Guthrie, and moved to New York City to play in various local clubs. It was here that he adopted the stage name Bob Dylan (from the poet Dylan Thomas).
In New York, Dylan developed an audience, was invited to play harmonica for recording star Harry Belafonte, and, after a glowing review of one of his stage shows in the New York Times, was signed to a deal by Columbia Records.
His first album, titled simply Bob Dylan, was released in 1962 to mixed reviews. The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, in 1963, contained the successful “Blowin’ in the Wind”, and propelled Dylan to commercial and critical success. In April 1963 he was invited to perform on the popular Ed Sullivan Show, but when the producers refused to allow him to sing the song he had picked (“Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”), Dylan turned them down.
In 1964, his album The Times They Are A-Changin’ made him an icon of the 1960s youth culture. Dylan began to perform at folk festivals across the country, and a year later began using electric guitars in his concerts, baffling his fans at first, but inspiring many of the rock stars who would follow.
Over the next six decades, Dylan would release 55 albums (15 of them live performances). Some 500 of his songs were written for or covered by some 2000 other artists. And in 2016 Dylan would earn a Nobel Prize in Literature—the first time a songwriter had ever won the prize. Typically, he did not attend the awards ceremony.
Today, the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa OK is the archives and repository for over 100,000 items from Dylan’s life, including letters, hand-written lyrics, musical instruments, and photographs. Fittingly, it is located next to the Woody Guthrie archives.
Some photos from a visit.