Bobby Zimmerman pilgrimaged to New York City's Greenwich Village just over a half century ago, seeking to visit his muse Woody Guthrie in the hospital and to launch a music career. He did both, and his first, eponymous album was released precisely 50 years ago. The rest is legend: Dylan the folk hero, Dylan going electric, Dylan and the Band, Dylan and the American ethos. Today, he stands as an always-touring icon. A national institution. It's time to celebrate the remarkable life of Bobby Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minnesota.
A life in pictures, including shots from those who know him intimately, and knew him in the reclusive years in Woodstock, like Eliot Landy and Bob Cato. LIFE's original coverage of Dylan, Joan Baez and the downtown scene of the early 1960s. Excerpts from Dylan interviews through the years that make the story come alive, and get to the heart of this enigmatic man.