Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter. He was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24, 1941, the son of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. His styles range from folk (the eponymous first album, and its acoustic successors), through rock to country (Nashville Skyline in particular). In 2016 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
Beginning in the early 1960s as a Woody Guthrie-influenced solo folk singer with an acoustic guitar, he first became known as a songwriter, when his songs were recorded by other artists, such as Peter, Paul and Mary, who had a hit with "Blowin' in the Wind", and Joan Baez, who was his girlfriend, even while he had another relationship with Sara Lownds, whom he would eventually marry. Baez had a hit with "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right": "She told the audience it was a song about a relationship that had lasted too long. Suze walked out of the arena, apparently close to tears. Dylan and Baez sang "With God on Our Side" as a duet."
In the middle of the same decade Dylan had a huge, and controversial, impact by switching to electric, adding a back-up band, and bringing literacy to rock'n'roll. In the late sixties, after a lay-off due to a serious (and at first mysterious) motor-cycle accident, he became identified as the prototype singer-songwriter, at the same time as his music, some say deliberately, lost much of its urgency.
It is generally agreed that the quality of Dylan's records over his long career has varied enormously. His most acclaimed albums are, from the sixties: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and John Wesley Harding; from the seventies: Blood on the Tracks, and Desire, and from the nineties, Time Out of Mind. Two more recent albums, Love and Theft and Modern Times, have also been warmly received.
The Basement Tapes were recorded in 1967 while recuperating from his accident and circulated on a number of bootlegs before a selection was officially issued on a double LP in 1975. The musicians featured include those who came to be known as the Band, whose first album, Music from Big Pink, included some of the same songs.