No artist in our time has mastered as many genres of American roots music as Bob Dylan. In a career that has spanned four decades, he has created masterpieces of traditional folk, protest music, folk rock, rock & roll, country, gospel and blues; in each he has pushed the envelope, using elements of older forms to synthesize a remarkable body of work that has made him one of the 20th century's most influential artists. From classic protest songs like "Blowin' in the Wind" to gentle country standards like "Lay, Lady, Lay," from the folk rock of "Hey, Mister Tamborine Man" to the rock of "Like a Rolling Stone," Dylan's work has raised the level of songwriting itself, and his ability to continually reinvent his music has been a lesson to generations of fans and admirers. Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, MN in 1941, Dylan initially won fame as an imitator of Woody Guthrie, relocating to New York in 1961 with the express purpose of meeting his idol. He fulfilled his goal, but also quickly won fame as a singer in Greenwich village clubs, writing startlingly original songs like "Masters of War." A contract with Columbia and a series of influential, largely acoustic albums followed. Dylan and his friend Joan Baez had become acknowledged leaders of the folk revival movement when, in 1965, he appeared at the Newport Folk Festival with an electric blues band, alienating many of his fans and creating a new genre called folk rock. A year later, Dylan was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident, and when he resumed his career, it was with a more mellow sound and a series of laid-back albums recorded in Nashville. Another change of direction came in 1979, when he announced he had become a born-again Christian, and began to focus on gospel music. This phase, too, passed, and the end of the century found Dylan still touring, creating new songs for new generations.
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