Allen Zimmerman was born 24 May 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota; his father
Abe worked for the Standard Oil Co. Six years later the family moved
to Hibbing, often the coldest place in the US, where he taught himself
piano and guitar and formed several high school rock bands. In 1959
he entered the University of Minnesota and began performing as Bob
Dylan at clubs in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The following year he went to New York, performed in Greenwich Village
folk clubs, and spent much time in the hospital room of his hero
Woody Guthrie. Late in 1961 Columbia signed him to a contract and
the following year released his first album, containing two original
Next year "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" appeared, with
all original songs including the 1960s anthem "Blowin' in the
Wind." After several more important acoustic/folk albums, and
tours with Joan Baez, he launched into a new electric/acoustic format
with 1965's "Bringing It All Back Home" which, with The
Byrds' cover of his "Mr Tambourine Man," launched folk-rock.
The documentary Dont Look Back (1967) was filmed at this time; he
broke off his relationship with Baez and by the end of the year
had married Sara Dylan (born Sara Lowndes). Nearly killed in a motorcycle
accident 29 July 1966, he withdrew for a time of introspection.
After more hard rock performances, his next albums were mostly country.
With his career wandering (and critics condemning the fact), Sam
Peckinpah asked him to compose the score for, and appear in, his
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) - more memorable as a soundtrack
than a film. In 1974 he and The Band went on tour, releasing his
first #1 album, "Planet Waves". It was followed a year
later by another first-place album, "Blood on the Tracks".
After several Rolling Thunder tours, the unsuccessful film Renaldo
and Clara (1978) and a divorce, he stunned the music world again
by his release of the fundamentalist Christrian album "Slow
Train Coming," a cut from which won him his first Grammy. Many
tours and albums later, on the eve of a European tour May 1997,
he was stricken with histoplasmosis (a possibly fatal infection
of the heart sac); he recovered and appeared in Bologna that September
at the request of the Pope. In December he received the Kennedy
Center Award for artistic excellence.