From Zimmerman To Dylan

Words By: Whaley Big Jesus | August 2nd, 1962

From Zimmerman To Dylan

On this day 50 years ago Robert Allen Zimmerman officially changed his name to Bob Dylan.

As the man himself noted in Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home, he simply didn't feel any connection with the name Zimmerman and he instead chose the name Dylan somewhere between his move from Minneapolis to New York and "it stuck". It would however take another year or so for him to officially change his name on the 02/08/1962.


Speculation has led the world to believe that Bobby chose the surname Dylan as an homage to Welsh Poet Dylan Thomas, however, he has stated that that was not the case: "No, I haven't read that much of Dylan Thomas… It wasn't that I was inspired by reading some of his poetry and going 'Aha!' and changing my name to Dylan."

Perhaps the fairest assumption to make is that Robert Allen Zimmerman changed his name to Bob Dylan in order to simply conform with the paradigm of punchy, few-syllabic names like those of his heroes – Woody Guthrie, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry. It was going to be a lot easier to get Bob Dylan's records played on the radio than Robert Zimmerman's. Dylan was also perhaps trying to avoid any anti-semitic undercurrents still relevant within American culture at the time.

Either way, Bob Dylan has rightfully become one of the most iconic and revered names in cultural history, as such, it's worth remembering the day that name officially came into being.

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