5 Things You Didn't Know About Bob Dylan

On June 16, 1965 — 56 years ago today — Bob Dylan recorded "Like A Rolling Stone". It would prove to be Dylan's magnum opus and is considered to be one of the most influential compositions in postwar popular music.  Here are 5 things you didn't know about Bob Dylan.

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Like a Rolling Stone Had 20 Pages Of Lyrics At  six-minute-and-34-seconds, Like a Rolling Stone was nearly twice as long as the average single. Columbia Records was unhappy with both the song's length and its heavy electric sound and was hesitant to release it. It was only when, a month later, a copy was leaked to a new popular music club and heard by influential DJs that the song was put out as a single. Although radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, "Like a Rolling Stone" reached No. 2 in the US Billboard charts and became a worldwide hit.

He Was Almost Elston Gunn, Not Bob Dylan Most Dylan fans know that his real name is actually Robert Zimmerman. But few know that in the early days of his music career, he went by the name of “Elston Gunn”. However, he began using the name Bob Dylan in 1959 when he was taking classes at the University of Minnesota.  In his 2004 autobiography, he stated “The first time I was asked my name in the Twin Cities, I instinctively and automatically, without thinking, simply said: ‘Bob Dylan.’ On August 2, 1962, Robert Allen Zimmerman made it official when he legally changed his name to Robert Dylan. 

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Dylan Never Had a Number One Single Despite being one of the greatest songwriters of all-time, Bob Dylan has never had a number one single in the United States or the United Kingdom. The closest he came was with Like A Rolling Stone and the 1966 tune Rainy Day Women which peaked at number two on the American Billboard chart. Although his singles never reached the number one position on the record charts, Dylan has enjoyed six number one studio albums in the UK, as well as five in the States – although it wasn’t until his 13th release, Planet Waves in 1974, that he secured his first American chart-topper.

The Agent Who Signed Him Also Discovered Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Bruce Springsteen John Hammond had quite the ear for future superstars. Despite the fact that one executive at Columbia Records said Dylan's voice was "the most horrible thing I've ever heard in my life," Hammond went with his gut and signed the young singer-songwriter after hearing him play harmonica on a Carolyn Hester album. Dylan almost lost the contract after his debut album flopped. Thankfully, the "Man in Black" himself, Johnny Cash, stepped in and urged Hammond to keep Dylan on Columbia's roster.

Bob Dylan Opened For Martin Luther King Young musicians often open performances for big, better-known artists, but a 22-year-old Bob Dylan once opened Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 in front of more than 200,000 people in Washington. Dylan played two songs in a short set, “When the Ship Comes in” and the apt “Only A Pawn In Their Game”.