How did Bob Dylan get his name?

Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman.

During his Dinkytown days, Zimmerman began introducing himself as "Bob Dylan". According to Dylan biographer Robert Shelton, the singer first confided his change of name to his high school girlfriend, Echo Helstrom, in 1958, telling her that he had found a "great name, Bob Dillon". Shelton surmises that Dillon had two sources: Marshal Matt Dillon was the hero of the TV western Gunsmoke; Dillon was also the name of one of Hibbing's principal families. While Shelton was writing Dylan's biography in the 1960s, Dylan told him, "Straighten out in your book that I did not take my name from Dylan Thomas. Dylan Thomas's poetry is for people that aren't really satisfied in their bed, for people who dig masculine romance." At the University of Minnesota, the singer told a few friends that Dillon was his mother's maiden name, which was untrue. He later told reporters that he had an uncle named Dillon. Shelton added that only when he reached New York in 1961 did the singer begin to spell his name "Dylan", by which time he was acquainted with the life and work of Dylan Thomas. In his memoir, he said he hit upon using this less common variant for Dillon – a surname he had considered adopting – when he unexpectedly saw some poems by Dylan Thomas.Explaining his change of name in a 2004 interview, Dylan remarked, "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free."