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By Lauren Wise
1. He was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota.
2. He started playing guitar when he was 12.
3. He wrote in his 1959 Hibbing High School yearbook that he planned "to join Little Richard."
4. He moved to New York City in January 1961 because he felt compelled to speak with Woody Guthrie, progenitor of lower Manhattan's then-blossoming folk scene. Guthrie had been paralyzed by a rare hereditary disease for eight years, but Dylan frequently visited him at Greystone Park Hospital in East Orange, New Jersey, and the two became friends. Incidentally, the road Dylan took from Minnesota to New York was Highway 61.
5. He made his first recording--a version of the classic "San Francisco Blues"--using a friend's home equipment in New York on February 3, 1961.
7. He got paid $50 for playing harmonica in the sessions for Harry Belafonte's 1961 album The Midnight Special.
8. He was "discovered" by legendary Columbia A&R guru John Hammond, who signed him in September 1961. Hammond was prompted to check out Dylan by a glowing review of the Gerde's gig that critic Robert Shelton wrote for the New York Times. Little did Hammond know that Shelton was a friend of Dylan's and would continue for years to write pieces on the singer that had more puff than a marshmallow.
9. He cites Walt Whitman, the French Symbolists and the Beat poets as his primary literary influences.
10. He legally changed his name to Bob Dylan (after poet Dylan Thomas) when he was 21.
11. His self-titled debut album was released in March 1962. Bob Dylan failed to chart, but the collection of raw, tough-as-leather versions of folk and country standards made him an overnight sensation in the New York City folk scene.
12. He played a folk singer in the BBC radio play The Madhouse on Castle Street during a brief visit to London in January 1963, performing "Swan on the River" and "Blowin' in the Wind" on the air.
13. His second major release, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, came out in May 1963. The recording's eloquent originals such as "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War" and "A Hard Rain's AGonna Fall" simultaneously established him as both a leader of the folk movement and a protest artist.
15. He liked to toy with reporters early in his career, giving purposely absurd answers to frequently inane questions (e.g., Q: "What is the blues?" A: "The blues is a pair of pants wihout any pockets in them") and spreading the myth that he'd been a troubled teenager who had run away from home to hang out on street corners and hop boxcars. He also said he was estranged from his family.
Bob's mom put that whopper to rest in 1963 when she showed up at one of his New York concerts and, outside after the show, shouldered her way through the crowd surrounding her son, got in his face and yelled, "Ienjoyed your performance tonight, Mr.Dylan."
16. He met Joan Baez at the Monterey Folk Festival on May 17, 1963. Later that year, he and Baez were the dual stars of Newport Folk Festival and toured the nation together. Somewhere along the road, they became lovers.
17. His songs have made other singers too much money to count. Peter, Paul & Mary were the first to score a hit with a Dylan cover--their version of "Blowin' in the Wind" hit No.2 in September 1963 and sold more than a million copies. 18. Three weeks after the assassination of President Kennedy, Dylan was nearly torn apart by peaceniks when he told the audience atthe Emergency Civil Liberties Committee's annual fund-raising banquet that he identified with Lee Harvey Oswald. "I don't know exactly what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit that I saw some of myself in him," he said in a drunken speech accepting an award for promoting free speech.19. He was the first person to get the Beatles stoned, smoking them out on Thai stick at the Delmonico Hotel in New York City in August 1964.20. His first song to chart in the U.S. was the hard, guitar-driven "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which went to No.39 in May 1965.
21. He effectively launched folk rock when he met the Byrds' Roger McGuinn and gave him "Mr. Tambourine Man." The Byrds' single hit No. 1 in June 1965.22. He was practically booed off the stage at the Newport Folk Festival by folk purists in July of 1965 when he plugged in and played a full electric set backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. (Keyboardist Al Kooper, who played organ on "Like a Rolling Stone," recently contradicted this staple of rock lore in an interview for the Dylan fanzine On the Tracks. "They booed because Bob only played three songs," says Kooper, who was onstage with Dylan at the time. "He was on for 15 minutes or less.")23. He told rock journalist Edna Gundersen earlier this year that electric and acoustic guitar "are pretty much equal to me. I try not to deface the songs with electricity or nonelectricity. I'd rather get something out of the song verbally and phonetically than depend on tonality of instruments."24. His first major hit was "Like a Rolling Stone," which peaked at No. 2 in September 1965. The song was considered revolutionary for its length (six minutes).