Which Singer was Born or Passed Away in May?

Get Insights of Popular Artists with Interesting Background Information


Bob Dylan: May 24th

In 2016 Bob Dylan was the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. After first successes as a folk musician, he became interested in rock music from the mid-1960s onwards, and also explored other traditions in American song from country, blues, gospel and the Great American songbook.

The Beginnings of Robert Allen Zimmerman

Bob Dylan was born under the name Robert Allen Zimmerman in the Midwest of the USA. Even as a teenager, Dylan dreamed of a career as guitarist and singer. He listened to music from Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry or Hank Williams. His parents fostered his talent: first he learned piano, later acoustic and electric guitar. For example, he taught himself Elvis Presley's version of Blue Moon of Kentucky on the guitar. He was also interested in literature. In High School, Bob joined the A-cappella group The Jokers. From this group emerged The Golden Chords.

Creation of an Art Figure

In 1959, Bob Dylan enrolled in a postgraduate course at the University of Minnesota. There are different derivations for the choice of the artist's name "Dylan": either he borrowed it from the TV series "Gunsmoke", or from the poet Dylan Thomas, whom he admired.


In 1961, Bob Dylan moved to Greenwich Village in New York City. Here, he also met his first love, Suze Rotolo, which inspired him artistically and introduced him to books by the French authors Artur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine or Charles Baudelaire. The relationship with Suze also inspired him to so-called Love/Hate songs, in which he extended the then-romanticized Lovesongs to add to them a bitter variant. In titles such as Don’t Think Twice, Ballad in Plain D, Boots of Spanish Leather or It's All Right, these elements can be found.

Hero of the Protest Movement

Bob Dylan was signed by John Hammond to the major label Columbia Records in 1961. The first album consisted only of two original compositions and received little attention. However, he made the breakthrough with the albums The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and The Times They Are a-Changin'. His girlfriend later said that success has made him increasingly egocentric. He hit the nerve of the time with socially-critical songs and insistent love songs and showed his extraordinary literary talent.

Companion of the Queen of Folk

He made his first big tour in the USA with Joan Baez, who was already a well-known singer in 1963. Bob Dylan achieved an increase in his popularity and financial success. He also performed with Baez at the Civil Rights March in Washington, where Martin Luther King gave his speech I Have a Dream.

Superstar of the Folk-Rock Music Scene

In the following years, he was repeatedly insulted and booed as a traitor of folk music because of his interest in electrically amplified music. In response, Dylan urged his band to play louder. On the other hand, he became the voice of a more and more politicizing counterculture.


The title Like a Rolling Stone from 1965 was voted one of the best songs of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. In 1988, Bob Dylan was inaugurated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other milestones were the Golden Globe and Oscar for the Best Soundtrack “Things Have Changed” for The Wonder Boys in 2001 and the award with the Polar Music Prize, the unofficial Nobel Prize for Music. The literary references, metaphors, and linguistic complexity of his songs were unmatched in popular music. Due to these facts, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last year.


Bob Marley: May 11th

The Jamaican Bob Marley, actually Robert Nesta Marley was a major representative of Reggae. As a singer, guitarist and songwriter, he became internationally known with the band The Wailers in the mid-1970s. Bob Marley spread the message of the Rastafarian movement, a faith which originated in Christianity in the 1930s. To this day, he is regarded as an identifier for many people, especially in the Third World. He died in May 1981.

Childhood and Family

Bob Marley's father was an officer of the British Army, his Jamaican mother just 18 years old when she gave birth to Robert Nesta Marley. The wedding of the parents was a scandal because of the great difference in age and it also led to the departure of Bob Marley's father from the army. Bob Marley dropped out of school at the age of 16, and became a mechanic, as his mother wished. However, the work in a bicycle repair shop did not fulfill him and thus he realized his dream and became a musician. In 1966, Bob Marley married his youth friend Rita Anderson, also a Cuban woman. With Rita, he had three children and one adopted child. After the wedding with Rita, seven other children from different women were born. Numerous descendants also became known as reggae band or pursue solo careers as reggae musicians.

Rastafarianism as Inspiration

Since Bob Marley converted from Christianity to Rasta in the late 1960s, he increasingly fought against the oppression of the blacks. The matted and twisted hair known as dreadlocks is an external recognition mark of the Rastafarian movement. The identification with religion also had an effect on Bob Marley's music. The mystical elements and religious rhetoric gave his songs a unique atmosphere.

Unexploited Attack

In December 1976, two days before a peace conference organized by the Jamaican Social Democratic Party to put a sign against the political violence on the island, Bob Marley, his wife Rita and his manager were injured in shooting in his house. The background of the offense as well as the perpetratorship could never be clarified. Bob Marley, however, suffered only minor injuries and appeared after the attack at the concert.

The End is Near

In 1980, Bob Marley wanted to make the final breakthrough in the US. That is why he toured together with the band The Commodors. His health deteriorated as a result of a foot injury, which occurred three years before, but which he did not treated because of the Rastafari ideology. He was later diagnosed with black skin cancer. While jogging before another concert in the USA, he collapsed in New York's Central Park. The diagnosis was convulsive: tumor infestation of the brain, lung and liver. Since the doctors prognosticated he had only a few weeks left, the singer consulted a German doctor who treated hopeless cancer patients. In the course of treatment by chemotherapy, Bob Marley lost his dreadlocks, which was a catastrophe for him.

Last Wish

On May 8, he decided to spend his last days in Jamaica. After the intermediate landing in Florida, however, it became clear that he was too weak for the flight. He eventually died in the hospital there. His coffin, however, was transferred to his home village and was buried at a national mourning ceremony.

Get all songs via the Audials Wishlists

Launch Audials One or Audials Music Rocket. Under "music wishes" in the area "Music and More" and "+ music wishes" enter an artist to receive a list of all songs. However, the individual albums can also be found in this view. Click on an album. Select now "Wish album" to let it appear in the wishlist. After closing the window and clicking on "Fulfill" the songs are sought and recorded.

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