The American singer-songwriter, author and visual artist that is Bob Dylan turned 80 just yesterday. To pay homage to the legendary creative, here are 8 facts about Robert Allen Zimmerman…

  1. Despite having sold more than 125 million albums around the world, Dylan has never had a number one single in the UK or US.
  2. When asked what his songs were about, in a 1966 interview with Playboy magazine, Dylan quipped: “Some are about four minutes, some are about five, and some, believe it or not, are about eleven or twelve.”
  3. Dylan was the first man to introduce The Beatles to marijuana, Sir Paul McCartney recently revealed to Uncut. ‘We all ran into the backroom going, ‘Give us a bit!'” said Sir Macca. “So that was the very first evening we ever got stoned!”
  4. Dylan saw Buddy Holly play live locally just a few days before he died in a plane crash, but it was country singer Hank Williams, and bluesmen Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, along with Elvis Presley who were his musical heroes growing up and The Rebel Without a Cause James Dean was his celluloid hero.
  5. Dylan was a university drop-out and never finished his Liberal Arts degree at the University of Minnesota. Working as busboy in a Fargo restaurant was the only normal job Dylan has ever done. In his 2004 memoir, and in another life wanting to be a soldier, he wrote he’d always pictured himself “dying in some heroic battle rather than a bed”.
  6. His first trip abroad was to London in the winter of 1962/63 when he spent 8 weeks in a freezing cold flat, where he learned traditional English folk songs like Scarborough Fair, and (for contractual reasons) cut an LP under the pseudonym Billy Boy Grunt.
  7. Blowin’ in the Wind was the song that made him famous and he performed the number near to Dr Martin Luther King Jr at a march on Washington DC in 1963, becoming the voice of a generation in the process – he said that Dr King’s famous I Have a Dream speech that day affected him “in a profound way”.
  8. Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 – the first songwriter to do so – and has played 100 gigs a year for the last 20 years. His last British gig of Dylan’s so-called Never Ending Tour, which kicked off in 1988, was at London’s Hyde Park in 2019.
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