Bob Dylan (born on 24 May 1941), one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 20th century, turns 79 today.
As well as a singer, he is a painter, sculptor, the author of two book, and 2016 Nobel Prize winner
When Robert Allen Zimmerman, from Hibbing, Minnesota, enrolled at the University of Minnesota, in 1959, he had been calling himself Bob Dillon for some time, claiming that it was his mother’s maiden name, which was actually Stone, or that he had an uncle with a similar name. He also said that there was a Dillon Road in his hometown of Hibbing, and that he took it from the name of a town in Oklahoma — home state of Woody Guthrie.
Later, another theory posited that his pseudonym grew out of an early appreciation for the Matt Dillon character in the TV iconic western series Gunsmoke, or footballer Bobby Dan Dillon, even though there is no evidence that he was especially interested in football.
While he was living at Sigma Alpha Mu house, he began to perform at a coffeehouse a few blocks from campus introducing himself as “Bob Dylan” and in 1962, while in New York, he legally changed his name to Dylan.
The reason why Zimmerman chose the name Dylan has long puzzled his biographers and the most commonly accepted version is that it was a tribute to Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who had been a patron of the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village where Bob Dylan was a known performer.
The White Horse is the place where, on 3 November 1953 Dylan Thomas drank so heavily that, on returning to the Hotel Chelsea, he had to declare, “I’ve had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that’s the record!”. After that he became ill, and died a few days later of unrelated causes.
Dylan himself has always been vague and enigmatic on the name issue, he only explained in a 2004 interview, “You’re born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.”