Bob Dylan, possibly the greatest and most influential musician in modern times, is turning 80. Baby Boomers everywhere are cringing right now just thinking about this.
The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Leonard Cohen… basically every significant rock performer who got his start somewhere between 1960 and 1990 was influenced either directly or indirectly by Bob Dylan.
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Some would argue that there would not have even been a rock genre if it were not for him. But no, the band the Rolling Stones did not get its name from the Dylan Hit “Like a Rolling Stone.” Their name came from a song by blues legend Muddy Waters of the same name.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Dylan has a $350 million fortune. A lot of that probably comes from the money left after all the lawyers’ fees and taxes had had to pay when Dylan sold the rights to his entire music catalogue for $300 million last year.
Bob Dylan’s catalogue includes more than 600 songs, from “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Like a Rolling Stone” to “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” No one over thirty can say that his or her childhood as not in some way influenced by his music. His songs moved generations of adults and have been used to educate generations of schoolchildren.
All these songs are among those from his 39 albums released between 1962 and 2020 which have been sold, including this year’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways.” That album was released by Bob Dylan last June and received widespread critical acclaim.
Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota. In honor of its State’s favorite son, the Minnesota Star Tribune offered a list of 80 things that people may not have known about the musician. These include things like Sigma Alpha Mu at 915 University Av. SE. Minneapolis, where the Jewish frat house where Zimmerman lived when he started at the University of Minnesota in fall 1959 was located.
The paper also listed his most famous opening acts – who performed before Dylan shows back before they were famous. These include Santana, Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell and the Foo Fighters.
A number of different organizations and cities across America are holding celebration this weekend to honor Bob Dylan.
Tulsa University has an entire Institute for Bob Dylan Studies. The Institute which houses some of Dylan’s archives will host Dylan@80: a virtual symposium from May 22-24, 2021. The program features seventeen sessions spread across three days and will include over fifty scholars, journalists, and musicians from around the world.
It probably comes as a surprise to most people to hear that there is such an institute even located in Tulsa.
The University of Tulsa Institute for Bob Dylan Studies is a broadly interdisciplinary research initiative dedicated to exploring the work, influence, life, and legacy of the Nobel-winning artist and his world. We aim, in particular, to amplify TU’s unique status as the new home of Dylan studies, to draw students and faculty into the archives, to foster world-class research, to engage with Tulsa’s rich musical culture, and to attract international recognition of the university as a leader in the arts and humanities.
If you are still not convinced that Bob Dylan is special, nname another modern musician who has won a Nobel Prize for his lyrics. That honor went to Mr. Dylan in 2016 for “Redefining Boundaries of Literature.” Indeed, how many other stars of the rock era are even remembered as much for the poetry of their lyrics as for their music? The few who come close are possibly Leonard Cohen and Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin. But in the latter case Mr. Taupin is neither the singer nor the musician who performed the songs.
Bob Dylan also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, from President Obama in 2012.