Copyright John Cohen


Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota on 24th May 1941. He grew up in the mining town of Hibbing and played in a number of rock and roll bands as a high school student. In 1959 he enrolled at the University of Minneapolis but left after his freshman year.

The Sixties

1961 In January, Dylan moved to New York City where he visited his idol Woody Guthrie in hospital and performed in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village. Following a performance at New York's Gerde's Folk City in September, Dylan received public recognition through a review by critic Robert Shelton in The New York Times. Dylan's talents were brought to the attention of A&R producer John Hammond and in October he signed a contract with Columbia Records.

1962 In March, Dylan released his first album, 'Bob Dylan'.

1963 Dylan's second album, 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan', released in May, made his name as a singer and songwriter. He soon became an important figure in the folk movement of Greenwich Village. 'Blowin' in the Wind', which appeared on the album, was released by Peter, Paul and Mary and reached number two on the American music charts in July. In the same month, Dylan performed at the Newport Folk Festival. It was also during 1963 that Dylan became prominent in the civil rights movement, singing at protest rallies with Joan Baez. On 28th August he sang at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the civil rights rally at which Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech.

1964 Dylan felt increasingly constrained by the folk and protest movement and his fourth album, 'Another Side of Bob Dylan', released in August 1964, showed a move away from protest songs to ones of a more personal and poetic nature.

1965 Dylan released 'Bringing It All Back Home', which included the use of electric instruments and signified his departure from folk music toward rock and roll. In April, Dylan began a tour of Britain and the hysteria surrounding him was captured in the film documentary, 'Don't Look Back' (1965), directed by the filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker. Dylan's single 'Like a Rolling Stone' was released on 20th July and became his first major hit. Five days later he performed at the Newport Folk Festival, backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, where he showcased his new electric sound and received a mixed response from the audience. In September, Dylan began touring backed by the Hawks - who later become known as The Band.

1966 In April, Dylan began a tour of Australia and Europe, which culminated in a raucous and notorious confrontation between the singer and fans during a concert at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in Britain. On 29th July near Woodstock, New York, Dylan crashed his motorcycle. Although the extent of his injuries were not known, he disappeared from public view for many months. He would not tour again for eight years.

1967 In spring, The Band moved to Woodstock to be closer to Dylan and he recorded with them in the basement of their house. The tracks produced were widely bootlegged and only legitimately released in 1975 as 'The Basement Tapes'.

1968 On 20th January, Dylan made his first live appearance following the accident with The Band at a memorial concert for Woody Guthrie in New York City.

1969 In May, Dylan appeared on the first episode of Johnny Cash's new television show, singing several songs as duets with Cash. Dylan rejected requests to perform at the 'Woodstock Festival' and instead topped the bill at the 'Isle of Wight Rock Festival' on 31st August.