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Bob Dylan, Poet for a Generation, Turns 70

Bob Dylan at the Grammys 2011 (Kevin Winter/Getty)

What’s your favorite Bob Dylan song? Mine is “When I Paint My Masterpiece.”

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota 70 years ago today and became the voice of a generation. He was raised in Hibbing, Minnesota and played in high school bands like The Shadow Blasters and The Golden Chords.

He was influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas, so changed his name to Bob Dylan. Not only a guitarist, pianist and harmonica player, he has also published three books on drawing and painting.

Dylan’s songs have been covered by The Byrds (Mr Tambourine Man), Jimi Hendrix (All Along The Watchtower), Guns N’ Roses (Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door), the Grateful Dead (Maggie’s Farm), Peter, Paul and Mary (Blowin’ in the Wind) and many others. His tune, “Forever Young,” is currently used as the theme song for the TV show “Parenthood,” and “Things Have Changed” was one of the songs on the soundtrack to the movie “Wonder Boys” for which Dylan won a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

Bob Dylan in 1965 (H. Thompson/Getty)

Other awards he’s won during his career include a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy’s and the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture.”

Over the years, Dylan has played with lots of artists including The Band, the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty and the Traveling Wilburys.

Dylan’s first acting role was in “Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid” playing “Alias” and wrote music for the film including “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Along with Joan Baez he made a four-hour long movie called “Renaldo and Clara in 1978. In 2003 he played the Jack Fate in the movie “Masked & Anonymous.”

Several films have documented Dylan’s life including Martin Scorcese’s “No Direction Home” in 2005 and director Todd Haynes 2007 film “I’m Not There” in which six actors portrayed different phases of Dylan’s life.

Growing up in Minnesota, one of Dylan’s heroes was Woody Guthrie who inspired him to head to New York City and play the folk clubs of Greenwich Village. There he was signed to CBS Records in 1961. His electric folk/rock sound became his trademark but lost him some fans when he “plugged in” at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1965.

Bob Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

A road in his hometown Duluth, Minnesota was renamed in 2008 as the Bob Dylan Pathway.

Time magazine has called Bob Dylan one of the top 100 Most Important People of the Century.

Happy Birthday Bob!

Bob Dylan circa 1985 (Dave Hogan/Getty)

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