May 24, 1941: Birth of musician Robert Allen Zimmerman

On this day in 1941, Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth’s St. Mary’s Hospital to Abram and Beatrice “Beatty” (Stone) Zimmerman of 519 North Third Avenue East, Duluth. The Zimmerman’s left Duluth for Hibbing in 1947, and in 1959 Robert left Hibbing for Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota, where he began performing in coffee shops and billed himself as “Bob Dylan.” After dropping out of college, Robert moved to New York City in January, 1961, where he introduced himself to a dying Woody Guthrie and, subsequently, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He began playing Greenwhich Village coffee shops and played a little background harmonica on a record for Carolyn Hester. Hester’s producer, John Hammond—who is credited for discovering Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and Bruce Springsteen—took a shine to Dylan, signed him to a recording contract, and you know the rest of the story. Except maybe this part: John Hammond was the grandson of General John Henry Hammond, who along with Robert Belknap owned the Land & River Improvement Company, which was instrumental in the development of Superior, Wisconsin, and built many of its early buildings, including Hammond Avenue Presbyterian Church, the Superior Board of Trade, and the Superior Hotel.

The former Robert Allen Zimmerman. (Image: Tumbler)

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