American Music Icon Bob Dylan Turns 70
Posted by Michael Mueller on May 23, 2011 at 12:20 PM
What can you say about Bob Dylan that hasn't already been said? What praise can you heap onto the legend that hasn't already been heaped? What ... Oh, you get the point. But one thing you can say that he's never heard before is "Happy 70th Birthday, Mr. Dylan," as the iconic singer-songwriter turns hits the septuagenarian mark on Tuesday, May 24.
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941, Dylan learned guitar and harmonica as a child and formed a rock band called the Golden Chords while in high school. After his graduation in 1959, he attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he began performing at local coffeehouses under the name Bob Dylan, taking his name from the poet Dylan Thomas.
In January of 1961, Dylan moved to New York City and quickly made his mark on the Greenwich Village folk community. By fall of that year, Dylan had signed a deal with Columbia Records and released his self-titled debut in March 1962. He then went on a songwriting binge which a year later produced The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, which features several of his most popular tunes, including "Blowin' in the Wind," "Girl From the North Country," "Masters of War," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."
Dylan's now hard-charging momentum continued on his 1964 release The Times They Are A-Changin', by which time he'd developed into a prolific and highly resonant songwriter.
But even with all this early success, Dylan didn't achieve his breakthrough to the wider pop audience until the summer of 1965, when his song "Like a Rolling Stone" became a #2 hit. The song appeared on Highway 61 Revisited, considered Dylan's first full-fledged rock 'n' roll album (featuring the great Michael Bloomfield on guitar!). After his 1966 double album Blonde on Blonde was released, Dylan had sold over 10 million records—quite a feat in that era.
And the story just goes on and on for another 45 years (and counting). For an extensive bio, check out Dylan's AllMusic.com biography.