Bob Dylan’s Birthday – This Week in Rock History

May 20 – May 26

Bob Dylan Is Born, Plugs In, and Becomes A True Music Legend

Poet. Musician. Icon. Bob Dylan, who was born on May 24th, 1941, is all of those things. As if that isn’t a cool enough reason to celebrate the amazing legacy that is the work of Bob Dylan, this past week (May 20th, 2016) also happens to be the release of his latest studio album, Fallen Angels (Columbia Records). Although Bob Dylan’s status as a songwriter is beyond legendary, having penned such unforgettable classics as “Blowin’ In the Wind”, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, and “Like a Rolling Stone”, anthems that have changed the face of popular music forever, Fallen Angels has to be an album of classic American cover songs. The new LP, which contains 12 cuts and was produced by Jack Frost, focuses on Bob Dylan’s other considerable talents: vocalist, bandleader, and arranger. Fallen Angels is Dylan’s 37th studio album and features such mythical American songs as “Come Rain or Come Shine” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer as well as “All or Nothing At All”, an enormous hit for pop music icon Frank Sinatra.

Bob Dylan birthday

BOB DYLAN – US folk musician in May 1965

This is another essential Bob Dylan week for another reason as well. 50 years ago on May 17, Bob Dylan played a show at the Manchester Free Trade Hall that extended the controversy that began with Dylan’s “electrifying” performance at the Newport Folk Festival. During a quiet moment in the performance, a fan yelled out a single word that seemed to reverberate around the entire music world: “Judas!” Yes, Bob Dylan, who had first plugged in at that Newport Festival, was likened by many folk fans as a traitor to the cause of pure, unadulterated folk music. Dylan’s embrace of rock music and the electric guitar turned him into a pariah among many of folk’s devotees. From a musical perspective, of course, the 1966 shows are drool-worthy phenomena. The Manchester show’s set list features a stunning collection of Bob Dylan’s work performed by a folk-rock icon in his prime; songs like “She Belongs to Me”, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, and “Desolation Row” during the acoustic set, and “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down”, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”, and “Ballad of a Thin Man” during the electric.

Bob Dylan’s career has once again truly flourished over the last two decades, bringing forth studio gems like 1997’s multiple Grammy winning record Time Out of Mind, and the 2006 set Modern Times, a multi-platinum album that earned Dylan several more Grammy Awards. In recent times, Dylan has received The Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States. In 2008, he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize. Altogether, Dylan has sold more than 125 million records.

Poet. Musician. Icon. Bob Dylan is an artist like no other. And we wish him a very happy birthday.

Here’s what else happened This Week in Rock History:

Born this Week in Rock History:

Joe Cocker: May 20, 1944 (Rock Singer)
Fats Waller: May 21, 1904 (Jazz Singer & Pianist)
John Dalton: May 21, 1943 (The Kinks, Bass)
Hilton Valentine: May 21, 1943 (The Animals, Guitar)
Stan Lynch: May 21, 1955 (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Drums)
Bernie Taupin: May 22, 1950 (Lyricist, Elton John)
Bob Dylan: May 24, 1941 (Rock Singer-Songwriter)
Albert Bouchard: May 24, 1947 (Blue Oyster Cult, Drums, Guitar)
Jessi Colter: May 25, 1943 (Country Singer-Songwriter)
Levon Helm: May 26, 1940 (The Band, Drums, Vocals)
Gary Peterson: May 26, 1945 (The Guess Who, Drums)
Miles Davis: May 26, 1926 (Jazz Trumpeter & Composer)
Stevie Nicks: May 26, 1948 (Fleetwood Mac, Vocals)

Died this Week in Rock History:

Ray Manzarek: May 20, 2013 (The Doors, Keyboards)
Elmore James: May 24, 1963 (Blues Singer-Songwriter, Guitar)
Duke Ellington: May 24, 1974 (Jazz Composer & Pianist)
Gene Clark: May 24, 1991 (The Byrds, Vocals)
Sonny Boy Williamson: May 25, 1965 (Blues Singer-Songwriter, Harmonica)

Music releases and the top of the charts:

Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” hits #1: May 21, 1973
The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” hits #1: May 22, 1965
The Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers hits #1: May 22, 1971
The Guess Who’s single and album “American Woman” are certified gold: May 22, 1970
The Who, Tommy was released: May 23, 1969
Deep Purple, “Smoke On The Water” was released: May 26, 1973



This week in rock History:

– The Who were set to play a gig at the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor, England, but John Entwistle and Keith Moon were extremely late. After they still hadn’t shown up, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend decided to play the gig with the bass player and drummer of the opening band, which was a local band. Entwistle and Moon finally arrived during the middle of the show. This lead to fisticuffs, with Townshend hitting Moon over the head with his guitar. Consequently, Moon and Entwistle quit the band. A week later, they joined up again: May 20, 1966

– Bob Dylan and The Band played a show at the ABC Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland. At this point, Bob Dylan was playing plugged in with the band, much to the dismay of parts of the audience. Audience members attempted to drown out Dylan and the band by playing their own harmonicas. Little did the audience know that electric guitars and amps have volume controls. A-ha!: May 20, 1966

– The television station BBC2 aired a short play that was called “The Pistol Shot.” The show featured a young dancer. This dancer happened to be none other than David Bowie: May 20, 1968

– Elton John plays the first of eight historic concerts in Moscow, making him the first rock star to perform there: May 21, 1979

– The Beatles return to Heathrow themselves, after their first triumphant visit to America. Thousands of Beatlemaniacs rush to greet them: May 22, 1964

– Ella Fitzgerald’s cover of the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” enters the UK charts, making her the first outside artist to have a hit with a Beatles song: May 23, 1964

– San Francisco bans electric instruments from all free outdoor concerts, leaving Jefferson Starship to cancel their planned free concert in Golden Gate Park. Years later, Bernie Taupin would write “We Built This City” for the band about this event: May 23, 1977

– The last Fleetwood Mac gig featuring Peter Green is played at the Bath Festival in Somerset, England: May 24, 1970

– The Who and Led Zeppelin play their first and only gig together at in Columbia, Maryland. Zeppelin was the opening act. On the tickets, the band’s name was spelled “Lead Zeppelin.” Best. Opening. Band. ever. May 25, 1969.

– Still on honeymoon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono check in to room 1742 in Montreal’s Hotel La Reine, where they begin their second “bed-in” for peace: May 26, 1969

– With Mott The Hoople threatening to disband due to public indifference, David Bowie gives the band two of his new, unrecorded songs. The band passes on “Suffragette City” but decides to cut a song called “All The Young Dudes,” a massive hit that revives the group’s career: May 26, 1972

– Marianne Faithful records a version of “As Tears Go By” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The recording features Jimmy Page on guitar and John Paul Jones on the bass, Foreshadowing good things to come: May 26, 1964

– On a transatlantic British Airways flight, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin get drunk and verbally harass the other first-class passengers on the flight, including actors Dudley Moore and Telly Savalas: May 26, 1976

– The rock group KISS provides Marvel Comics with a small vial of their blood to be mixed with printers’ ink for their upcoming faux-autobiographical comic: May 26, 1976

– Firemen arrive at the burning home of Eric Clapton to find the guitarist running in and out of the home to save his guitar collection. The house is gutted, with about three million dollars’ damage: May 26, 1996

That’s all for This Week in Rock History. Did we get it all? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook or send us a Tweet!

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