Bob Dylan

"Blowin' In The Wind" ... "Mr. Tambourine Man" ... "The Times They

Are a-Changin' " ... "My Back Pages" ... "Chimes of Freedom" ...

"It's All Over Now Baby Blue" ... "Maggie's Farm" ...

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Dylan,_Bob/Like_A_Rolling_Stone.ram">

"Like A

Rolling Stone" (RealAudio excerpt) ... "Just Like A Woman" ... "All

Along The Watchtower"

... "Lay, Lady Lay" ... "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" ... "If

Not For You" ... "Tangled Up In Blue" ... "Forever Young" ...

"Gotta Serve Somebody" ...

You get the idea. On this day in 1941, Robert Allen Zimmerman, who

later changed his name to Bob Dylan, was born in Duluth, Minn.

Dylan is one of the most influential folk-rock artists of our time. Since

the '60s,

his magnificent songwriting and innovative style changes have affected

a vast range of artists. Many of his debtors are greats in their own right:

the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the '60s (check out "You've Got To

Hide Your Love Away" by the

former and "Jigsaw Puzzle" by the latter), Patti Smith and Bruce

Springsteen in the '70s, U2 and R.E.M. in the '80s and Beck and Ani

DiFranco in the '90s.

After attending the University of Minnesota, Dylan (who legally changed

his name in 1962 to honor Dylan Thomas) began performing with his

acoustic guitar at coffeehouses. To seek out his idol, Woody Guthrie,

Dylan moved to New York City in 1961 and visited the dying Guthrie in

New Jersey. A New York Times review of one of his shows caught

the eye of legendary talent scout John Hammond, who signed Dylan to

Columbia and

produced the young folk singer's eponymous debut album.

But it was 1963's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, on which Dylan wrote

most of

the tunes, that first showed the depth of his talent. With such protest

songs as "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Masters of War," the young

songwriter matched the genius of folkies Guthrie and Pete Seeger and

attracted the attention of folk songstress Joan Baez, who brought Dylan on

tour with her.

After hundreds of concerts and a few more brilliant, groundbreaking

albums, Dylan jolted the music world with 1965's Bringing It All Back

Home, on which he mixed his usual folk songs with the sound of a rock

band.

In July of that year, he introduced his new electric music at the Newport

Folk Festival

and was jeered by purists. But there was no turning back. Dylan began

mixing his amazing poetry with electric rock -- a combination that quite

simply gave birth

to much of the rest of pop music in the ensuing decades. The next two

albums, 1965's Highway 61 Revisited and the double Blonde on

Blonde the next year, were Dylan at his peak and remain nearly

unrivaled in their greatness 30 years later. His lyrics to such

masterpieces as "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," "Sad Eyed Lady of the

Lowlands" and "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" were

analyzed endlessly and his stark, acerbic vocal style became widely

imitated.

After surviving a bad motorcycle wreck in 1966, Dylan retreated from the

scene,

recording songs with the Band that would be released in the mid-'70s as

The Basement Tapes. But Dylan officially returned from his accident

with the understated John

Wesley Harding, which ignored the psychedelic music that was the rage

at the time. That album and his 1969 release, Nashville

Skyline, were precursors of the country-rock sound that gave rise to the

Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and a score of others.

After getting married, Dylan concentrated on raising a family, while

various compilation and live albums were released by Columbia. He was

back with a vengeance with 1974's Blood on the Tracks, which

chronicled the pain of a dissolving marriage and demonstrated that the

master songwriter's talents hadn't deteriorated in the new decade.

Classics such as "Shelter From The Storm" and "Idiot Wind" were

prominent on FM radio. Dylan then began the communal "Rolling Thunder

Revue" tour during which he collaborated with the likes of Baez,

Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Allen Ginsberg, Joni Mitchell and Arlo Guthrie.

He released the top-selling Desire in 1975. Four years later,

Dylan -- who was born Jewish -- announced that he had become a born-again

Christian, and his next few albums, including that year's Slow Train

Coming, were dominated by his adopted religion.

Dylan's output in the '80s was less majestic, only 1983's

Infidels and 1989's Oh Mercy, produced by Daniel Lanois (U2,

Peter Gabriel), tapped the strength of his earlier work. But 1985's compilation,

Biograph, was one of the first of the now-ubiquitous box sets and

1991's The Bootleg Series was an astounding collection of

unreleased material, some of which was even better than his previously issued

music.

In the early '90s, Dylan released two albums of traditional folk

songs, 1992's Good As I Been to You and 1993's World Gone

Wrong, giving many the impression that his best songwriting days

were well behind him. He has spent most of this decade on an endless tour,

which has yielded performances of erratic quality. This was interrupted in

1997, when he was hospitalized in critical condition with a rare heart

inflammation. He recovered and rebounded with his best album since the

'70s, 1997's Time Out Of Mind, which included heartfelt songs of

desolation such as "Lovesick" and

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Dylan,_Bob/Highlands.ram">"Highlands"

(RealAudio excerpt). Dylan backed the album

with a world tour, and Time Out Of Mind was named Album of the Year

during that year's

Grammy Awards. During the awards telecast, Dylan's performance was

amusingly interrupted by a gatecrasher who danced topless with the words

"Soy Bomb" (Spanish for "I Am The Bomb") painted across his chest. Dylan

laughed off the

intrusion and was praised for his participation in the show. The

living legend is now touring the West Coast with Van Morrison and Joni

Mitchell.

Other birthdays: Sara Dash (Labelle), 56; Derek Quinn (Freddie & the

Dreamers), 56; Steve Upton (Wishbone Ash), 52; Albert Bouchard (Blue Oyster

Cult), 51; John Grimaldi (Argent), 43; Rosanne Cash, 43; and Rich Robinson

(the Black

Crowes), 29.