Bob Dylan is born in Duluth, Minnesota. His birth name is Robert Allen Zimmerman.
Using the stage name Bob Dylan, the former Robert Zimmerman performs as a folksinger at the Ten O’Clock Scholar, a Minneapolis coffeehouse.
Bob Dylan arrives in New York City, performing a few songs this same night at a hoot night at the Cafe Wha? Dylan had relocated here in order to visit his idol, Woody Guthrie, who lay dying in a New Jersey hospital.
Having impressed folk-scene gatekeeper and mainstay Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan performs at Gerde’s Folk City, in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Bob Dylan’s self-titled first album, produced by John Hammond, is released on Columbia Records. Its highlight is Dylan’s “Song for Woody.”
Bob Dylan performs his first major solo concert, at New York City’s Town Hall. He concludes with a poem, “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie.”
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the singer/songwriter’s second album, enters Billboard’s album chart, where it will peak at #22.
Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ is released. It is his first completely self-composed album, and the prophetic title track is a highlight.
Bob Dylan’s fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, is released. Marking a turn towards more personal material, it includes “Chimes of Freedom,” “My Back Pages” and “Spanish Harlem Incident.”
Bob Dylan and the Beatles meet in a New York hotel room. According to Paul McCartney, Dylan turned the Fab Four on to marijuana for the first time.
Bringing It All Back Home, by Bob Dylan, his half-electric and half-acoustic fifth album, is released. It includes “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Maggie’s Farm” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”
“Subterranean Homesick Blues” becomes Bob Dylan’s first Top Forty single, reaching #39 for one week.
The Byrds’ recording of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” reaches #1 on Billboard’s singles chart. It is the first and only #1 hit penned by Dylan.
Bob Dylan is booed for “going electric” at the Newport Folk Festival when he is backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and keyboardists Barry Goldberg and Al Kooper.
Highway 61 Revisited, by Bob Dylan, is released. Featuring keyboardist Al Kooper and guitarist Mike Bloomfield, it is his first all-electric album. It includes “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Desolation Row” and “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Bob Dylan’s double-album classic, Blonde on Blonde, is released. Recorded in Nashville with session musicians, along with stalwart Dylan accompanists Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, it yields such classics as “I Want You,” “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” “Just Like a Woman” and “Visions of Johanna.”
Bob Dylan performs with the Hawks (better known as The Band) at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. This electrifying concert becomes a popular bootleg, erroneously titled The Royal Albert Hall Concert. It is officially released as Live 1966, the fourth volume in Dylan’s Bootleg Series, in 1998.
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” by Bob Dylan, peaks at #2 on Billboard’s singles chart.
Bob Dylan is injured in a motorcycle accident near Woodstock, New York. During his recovery he casually records new material with The Band. Selections from the roughly 100 songs they laid down are released, nearly ten years later, as The Basement Tapes.
Woody Guthrie dies of Huntington’s Chorea at the age of 55. Dylan will perform at the Woody Guthrie Memorial Concerts, at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the following January.
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits is issued while the artist is out of commission. It becomes his best-selling album and was, in 2001, certified five times platinum (5 million copies sold) by the RIAA.
Bob Dylan releases John Wesley Harding, an album of apocalyptic folks songs recorded with country musicians in Nashville. Among them are “All Along the Watchtower,” which Jimi Hendrix will recast in a rock arrangement.
Bob Dylan releases his most unabashedly country-sounding record, Nashville Skyline, which yields the Top Ten hit “Lay Lady Lay.”
Bob Dylan receives an honorary doctorate from Princeton University.
Bob Dylan’s New Morning is released only four months after Self-Portrait. It is a return to form for Dylan after the poorly received double album that preceded it.
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” by Bob Dylan, peaks at #12 on Billboard’s singles chart. It is the highlight of Dylan’s soundtrack to the film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.
Planet Waves, Bob Dylan’s first #1 album – and only studio album during a brief hiatus with Asylum Records - tops the charts for the first of five weeks.
Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks reaches #1 on Billboard’s album chart for the first of two weeks. It also produces the hit single "Tangled Up in Blue"
Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue Tour commences in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Desire, by Bob Dylan, tops Billboard’s album chart for the first of five weeks. It also yields two charting singles: "Hurricane" and "Mozambique"
Renaldo & Clara, filmed during Bob Dylan’s rambling Rolling Thunder Revue, is released to scathing reviews. The nearly four-hour film had been edited down from 80 hours of tour footage.
Slow Train Coming, the first of three Christian-themed albums by Bob Dylan, is released. It is coproduced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett and features Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) on guitar.
Bob Dylan appears on Saturday Night Live, performing “Gotta Serve Somebody” and two other songs.
Bob Dylan is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York.
Bob Dylan releases Infidels, coproduced with Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Memorable tracks include “Jokerman” and “Sweetheart Like You.”
Empire Burlesque, by Bob Dylan, is released. Curiously, it is mixed by dance-music producer Arthur Baker.
Bob Dylan participates at the first Farm Aid concert, a yearly event that was inspired by a comment he made from the stage at the Live Aid concert.
Biograph, a 53-track compilation of highlights and rarities spanning Bob Dylan’s career, is released. Selling strongly for a box set, it reaches #33 on the album chart.
During a concert in Locarno, Switzerland, Bob Dylan experiences a personal epiphany concerning live performing, laying the groundwork for his Never Ending Tour.
Bob Dylan is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 3rd annual induction dinner. Bruce Springsteen is his presenter.
Volume One, by the Traveling Wilburys, is released. This anonymous supergroup comprises Nelson Wilbury (George Harrison), Lucky Wilbury (Bob Dylan), Lefty Wilbury (Roy Orbison), Otis Wilbury (Jeff Lynne) and Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. (Tom Petty). The album is a hit, reaching #3 and selling more than 3 million copies.
Oh Mercy, by Bob Dylan, is released. Recorded in New Orleans with Louisiana musicians, it includes “Political World” and “Everything Is Broken.”
Bob Dylan receives the Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
An all-star gathering of musicians pays tribute to Bob Dylan to mark his 30th anniversary as a recording artist. An edited version of the marathon-length Madison Square Garden concert is released in audio and video formats.
World Gone Wrong, Bob Dylan’s 40th album – and second set of traditional folk songs in a row – is released.
Good as I Been to You, an album of old folk and blues songs by Bob Dylan, is released. it is his first solo acoustic recording since Another Side of Bob Dylan in 1964.
Bob Dylan is honored at the Kennedy Center. Dylan, actress Lauren Bacall, actor Charlton Heston, singer Jessye Norman and ballet dancer Edward Villella are recognized for making “significant and lasting contributions to the performing arts. They have been instrumental in uplifting the hearts and spirit of the American people.”
Time Out of Mind, by Bob Dylan, wins Album of the Year at the 40th annual Grammy Awards. He also wins Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Cold Iron Bounds.”
Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft is released the same day that religious extremists attack the U.S. using hijacked airplanes.
Love and Theft, by Bob Dylan, wins Best Contemporary Folk Album at the 44th annual Grammy Awards.
Fifteen of Bob Dylan’s albums are released in the hybrid Super Audio CD (SACD) format, representing a significant sonic upgrade of Dylan’s catalog. The titles are available individually or as a box set.
No Direction Home, a Bob Dylan documentary produced by Martin Scorsese, debuts on PBS.
Modern Times, by Bob Dylan, is released. It debuts at #1 on Billboard’s album chart.
Bob Dylan’s Modern Times wins Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album at the 49th annual Grammy Awards.
I’m Not There, a film that imagines the life and times of Bob Dylan, opens in U.S. theaters. A half-dozen actors (including Cate Blanchett) represent different phases of Dylan’s career.
Bob Dylan is awarded a Pulitzer Prize, making him the first rock and roll musician to be accorded this high journalistic honor.