Bob Dylan Timeline 1959 – 1961





bob dylan 1961
in studio Nov 1961

A timeline is a way of displaying a list of events in chronological order, sometimes described as a project artifact. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with dates alongside itself and usually events labelled on points where they would have happened.
~wikipedia

This is my first post in a long series of “Bob Dylan Timeline” posts. I dig mind maps & timelines, it’s a brilliant way to visualize information.

“I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so I’m on my way home.”
― Bob Dylan, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

September 29, 1959 – University of Minnesota (age 18)

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September 29, 1959 – University of Minnesota (age 18)

Starts @ The University of Minnesota & moves into a Jewish fraternity house, Sigma Alpha Mu. Related

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October 1, 1959 – Starts Performing in Minneapolis

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October 1, 1959 – Starts Performing in Minneapolis

October 59 – May 1960: Dylan performs regularly at the Ten O’Clock Scholar  (in Dinkytown) before making the mistake of asking for a pay increase. His material was somewhat limited at first. He sang a few traditional folk songs, some country and hillbilly, a couple of Pete Seeger songs, and a lot of material then in vogue because of the popularity of slick, commercial folk interpreters such as Harry Belafonte and the Kingston Trio …. He sang in a traditional folk style. He concentrated more on the melody line than he would later …. His voice was rather nasal, and most people around thought he was an inept singer. ~Anthony Scaduto (“Dylan” – 1972) Related

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The Bohemian Life

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Now generally using the name Dylan instead of Zimmerman, he moves out of the fraternity house and into a shared apartment above a drugstore in Dinkytown, the bohemian quarter of Minneapolis. By February, he’s also playing the Purple Onion, a pizza parlour in nearby St Paul. Related

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May 1960 – First Extensive Recording

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Following a show at the Purple Onion, Dylan records 27 songs at the apartment of the Wallace sisters, two admirers, in St Paul. He sings mostly folk material in a sweet, country-style voice, yet to be influenced by the sound of Woody Guthrie. One night, after he had played at the Purple Onion Pizza Parlor, Dylan makes his first “extant” recording as Bob Dylan, in the apartment of Karen Wallace in St. Paul. The recording shows a singer whose voice resembles more the country twang of Hank Williams than the harsh nasal sound of Woody Guthrie. The 27 songs are apparently recorded one song at a time, being a mixture of obvious folk classics and more obscure traditional material. Only one or two of the performances hint at latent promise. ~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995) Related

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June 1960 – Mountain High (Denver)

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He travels to Denver, and starts playing piano in a strip joint in nearby Central City. In Denver, he sees a performance by Jesse Fuller, who uses a harmonica rack. Accused of stealing LP records (he he..), Dylan leaves Denver in a hurry.   Related

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September 1960 – Reads Woody Guthrie’s Book

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September 1960 – Reads Woody Guthrie’s Book

Fellow student Harry Weber lends Dylan a copy of Woody Guthrie’s ramblin’ memoir Bound for Glory. Now Guthrie-obsessed, Dylan hunts down recordings and is soon mimicking his hero’s speech patterns and unique syntax. David Whitaker suggests that Dylan read Woody Guthrie’s autobiography, Bound for Glory. Dylan eagerly devours the contents of the entire book, apparently carrying it around for weeks afterward, stopping people he knows in the street to read passages from it. The book temporarily focuses Dylan’s search for identity on Woody Guthrie. ~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995) Related

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December 1960 – Hitchhikes from Minneapolis

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I stood on the highway during a blizzard snowstorm believing in the mercy of the world and headed east, didn’t have nothing but my guitar and suitcase ~Bob Dylan Dylan leaves Minneapolis and heads straight for Chicago, where he tracks down Kevin Krown (Krown had invited Dylan to “look him up” when they had met in Denver that summer). Dylan shows up just before Christmas (possibly around the 21st), staying a couple of weeks, crashing on people’s floors. ~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995) Related

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Late December 1960 – Playing in Chicago

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Dylan plays coffeehouses, dorms, and student parties in Chicago, generally hanging out with the folk crowd. One night he plays a sorority house at the University of Chicago. His set apparently consists entirely of Guthrie songs. While in Chicago, Dylan later related, he spent one night in the company of a 60-year-old, red-haired woman . ~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995) Related

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January 24, 1961 – Arrives in New York City

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January 24, 1961 – Arrives in New York City

Dylan heads for Café Wha? in New York’s Greenwich Village, sings a couple of songs at their hootenanny night and tells the crowd: “I been travelin’ around the country, followin’ in Woody Guthrie’s footsteps”. Owner Manny Roth gets him a bed for the night. Dylan arrives in a snowbound New York, accompanied by his friend Fred Underhill. He heads for the Cafe Wha. It is a hootenanny night, and he performs a couple of songs. The Wha’s owner, Manny Roth, asks the audience to provide them with a place to stay for the night. ~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995) Related

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January 29, 1961 – Visits Woody Guthrie

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January 29, 1961 – Visits Woody Guthrie

Dylan achieves his dream of meeting Guthrie while his idol is on weekend release from hospital where he is being treated for Huntington’s Chorea. Dylan sings to him; “I was a Woody Guthrie jukebox”. Guthrie gives Dylan a card saying “I ain’t dead yet”. Within a few days of his arrival he realized his dream of meeting Woody Guthrie, and was singing and playing guitar for Guthrie at his hospital bedside in New Jersey (Guthrie was slowly dying of Huntington’s Disease). Guthrie was spending weekends at the home of Bob and Sid Gleason in East Orange, New Jersey, and Woody’s friends would come out from Manhattan to be with him and each other. ~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973) Related

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April 11, 1961 – Supports John Lee Hooker

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April 11, 1961 – Supports John Lee Hooker

Dylan’s first big show, supporting blues legend John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City, earns him $90 a week. The first night of a two-week stint supporting John Lee Hooker at Gerdes Folk City. Dylan is extremely nervous but performs his five songs creditably. His set includes “Song to Woody” and Dave Van Rank’s arrangement of “House of the Rising Sun,” taught to Dylan by Van Ronk himself. ~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995) Related

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May 1961 – Performes @ Unidentified coffehouse Minneapolis, Minnesota (audio)

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May 1961 – Performes @ Unidentified coffehouse Minneapolis, Minnesota (audio)

The May tape has never enjoyed the same popularity [as the December tape – The Minnesota Hotel Tape]. Partly because of the low quality of the original recording, and partly due to a remarkably uninspired performance. One of the first times that a young Bob would hear himself on tape, nerves, inexperience, and limited repertoire would result in, at best, this mediocre offering. The tape is significant, however, not only for its historical importance, but also as a standard to compare the December tape. A short seven months that separate the two. A lifetime that separate the two. The interim shows the explosive growth from a kid with a guitar to a Folk Phenomenon. ~Bobsboots.com Check out this post -> Bob Dylan: A Coffehouse in Minneapolis May 1961 (audio) Related

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September 29, 1961 – First Review

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September 29, 1961 – First Review

Robert Shelton, in the New York Times, writes a glowing review of Dylan’s support slot at Gerde’s Folk City, calling him “One of the most distinctive stylists to play Manhattan in months”. On the same day Dylan plays harmonica at a recording session produced by John Hammond. And here it is:  20-Year-Old Singer Is Bright New Face at Gerde’s Club (By ROBERT SHELTON) Related

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October 26, 1961 -Signs Recording Contract

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After rejections from smaller labels, Columbia Records’ John Hammond offers Dylan a five-year contract. “I was just so happy to be able to record, I didn’t even read it”. He completes his first album in two three-hour sessions, costing $402.   Related

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November 4, 1961 – First Solo Show

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November 4, 1961 – First Solo Show

Izzy Young, owner of the Folklore Centre, organises a show at the 200-capacity Carnegie Recital Hall. Only 52 people attend and the show makes a loss. Backwater Blues – Carnegie Chapter Hall – November 4 – 1961 Setlist: Pretty Peggy-O (trad.) In The Pines (Huddie “Leadbelly” Leadbetter) Gospel Plow (trad.) 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie) Backwater Blues (Bessie Smith) A Long Time A-Growin’ (trad.) Fixin’ To Die (Bukka White) San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller) Car Song (Woody Guthrie) Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues Man On The Street Sally Gal This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie) Talking Merchant Marine (Woody Guthrie) Black Cross (Lord Buckley) He Was A Friend Of Mine Pretty Polly (trad.) House Of The Risin’ Sun (trad.) The Cuckoo Is A Pretty Bird (trad.) Freight Train Blues (John Lair) Song To Woody Talkin’ New York Related

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November 20 – Bob Dylan first recording session for “Bob Dylan”

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November 20 – Bob Dylan first recording session for “Bob Dylan”

Dylan begins recording his first album for Columbia, with John Hammond producing, at Columbia’s Studio A in New York. Despite Hammond complaining of his poor microphone technique, Dylan lays down usable versions of “You’re No Good,” “Fixin’ to Die,” “House of the Rising Sun,” “Talkin’ New York,” “Song to Woody,” “Baby Let Me Follow You Down,” and “In My Time of Dyin”‘ at the three-hour afternoon session. He also records an introduction about a Connecticut cowboy for “You’re No Good,” which ends up unused, attempts an incomplete “Man of Constant Sorrow,” and cuts a lovely “He Was a Friend of Mine,” which evenrually appears on The Bootleg Series. All in all, a successful start to his Columbia career. ~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995) Dylan comes across as obsessed with the romance of dying, but the speed, energy and attack in his guitar, harmonica and voice show how fresh and excellently ‘unprofessional’ he was. ….. Yet what comes through from the album as a whole is a remarkable skill and more than a hint of a highly distinctive vision. ~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia) Check out: November 20: Bob Dylan first recording session for “Bob Dylan” – 1961 Related

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November 22, 1961: Bob Dylan: second recording session for.. “Bob Dylan”

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November 22, 1961: Bob Dylan: second recording session for.. “Bob Dylan”

CBS is proud to introduce a major new figure in American folk music—Bob Dylan. Excitement has been running high since the young man with a guitar ambled into a recording studio for two sessions in November, 1961. For at only 20, Dylan is the most unusual new talent in American folk music. His talent takes many forms. He is one of the most compelling white blues singers ever recorded. He is a songwriter of exceptional facility and cleverness. He is an uncommonly skillful guitar player and harmonica player. ~Stacey Williams (“Bob Dylan” LP. liner notes – March 1962) Check out: November 22: Bob Dylan: second recording session for.. “Bob Dylan”, 1961 Related

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-Egil