Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan becomes the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature since novelist Toni Morrison won it in 1993. He is also the first person who is primarily considered a musician to ever win the award.
In celebration of this latest honor for a man who has certainly had his share of awards, here are 10 facts that you may not know about the music legend:
1. Named at birth Robert Allen Zimmerman, Dylan briefly went by the name Elston Gunn. He began his career as an acoustic singer-songwriter focusing on protest songs in the turbulent 1960’s with songs such as Blowin’ in the Wind with his first album released in 1962.
2. Dylan’s first professional recording was as a harmonica player at a Harry Belafonte session. In 1960, Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers attempted to have the manager of a Denver club to remove Dylan from the bill because he said that Dylan’s voice was awful.
3. Early in his career, when CBS informed him that he could not play “Talkin’John Birch Paranoid Blues” on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’, one of the biggest shows on TV at the time, Dylan refused. His first major American television appearance was ‘The Steve Allen Show’ in 1964 where he played ‘Hattie Caroll’ which drew just a single clapping audience member.
4. While there are very few details available about the event, Dylan disappeared from the public eye after a motorcycle accident in 1966, allowing him to escape the intense public pressure which he had garnered. Dylan would not tour for another eight years.
5. While Dylan is Jewish by birth, he converted to Christianity following his divorce in 1979. He has released three religious-based albums, but has since avoided making any overt references to Christianity until he surprised his fans with a Christmas album in 2009.
6. In 2004, Dylan received an honorary doctorate in music from the University of St. Andrews. The only other honorary degree that Dylan has accepted was in 1970 from Princeton.
7. In 1970, he was briefly involved in the production of a musical version of ‘The Devil and Daniel Webster’ with poet Archibald MacLeish. However, he backed out as the two were unable to get along. He then appeared as a drifter named Alias in the 1973 Sam Peckinpah film ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.’
8. Dylan is a prolific painter with his paintings displayed at various exhibits, including earlier this year at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Also, he painted the cover of his 1970 album ‘Self Portrait.’
9. Since 1988, he has been on his ‘Never-Ending Tour,’ where he has performed more than 100 concerts a year.
10. in 2001, Dylan received an Academy Award for his song ‘Things Have Changed,’ which was featured in the film ‘Wonder Boys.’