Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on 24 May 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet. He is one of America's most highly regarded songwriters, whose enduring contributions to American music are comparable to those of Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams.
Much of Dylan's best known work is from the 1960s, when he became an informal documentarian and reluctant figurehead of American unrest. Many involved in the anti-war and civil rights movements found an anthem in his song "Blowin' In The Wind". Millions of young people embraced "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as the rallying cry of the decade.
Dylan expanded the vocabulary of popular music by incorporating politics, social commentary, philosophy and literary influences into his lyrics. In doing so he created a style which combines an often absurdist lyrical stream of consciousness with social and political imperatives, defying pop music convention and appealing widely to the counterculture of the time. While expanding and personalizing musical styles, Dylan has nonetheless shown devotion to traditions of American song, from folk and country/blues to rock 'n' roll and rockabilly, to Gaelic balladry, even jazz, swing and Broadway.
Dylan performs with the guitar, piano and harmonica. Backed by a changing lineup of musicians, he has toured almost constantly since the late 1980s. Although his contributions as performer and recording artist have been central to his career, his songwriting is generally held as his highest accomplishment.
Since 1994, Dylan has published three books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries.As a songwriter and musician, Dylan has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and received numerous awards over the years including Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards; he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." In May 2012, Dylan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.