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April 26, 2017

Bob Dylan's Early Days in New York: 17 Intimate Photos of 20-Year-Old Folk Singer Inside His First Apartment

In November 1961, Bob Dylan was just 20 years old, a young folk Singer on the cusp of fame. His first paid performances, at Gerde’s Folk City in New York’s Greenwich Village, were starting to attract interest.

His first review had just come out, a surprising rave in the New York Times, which said, “Mr. Dylan is both a comedian and a tragedian.”

Meanwhile, Ted Russell was a photojournalist working regularly for LIFE magazine in New York when an RCA Records publicist hired him to photograph the label’s latest discovery, Ann-Margret.

Shortly afterward, the publicist moved to Columbia Records and invited Russell to take some pictures of its new hire, Bob Dylan. Russell liked the idea, thinking a story on an up-and-coming Village folk singer could interest LIFE.

“I wanted to do an essay on the trials and tribulations of an up-and-coming folk singer trying to make it in the big city,” Russell told the NY Times. "[The LIFE editors] gave me a big yawn, not the slightest interest." Despite the lack of interest in that shoot, Russell ended up shooting Dylan twice more in 1963 and 1964, when he was already a star.

Dylan and Suze Rotolo

Dylan inside the kitchen of his W. 4th Street apartment

Dylan inside his first apartment in NYC on W. 4th Street

Dylan talking to James Baldwin at the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee's Bill of Rights Dinner

Dylan singing at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village

Dylan hands in pockets and smiling

Dylan with Mark Spoelstra in the basement of Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich Village

Dylan about to go onstage at Gerde's Folk City

Dylan and Rotolo

Dylan singing "House of The Rising Sun" at Gerde's

Dylan on bed playing guitar and harmonica

Bob Dylan typing

Dylan taking a break from writing

Dylan playing a record

Dylan smoking at typewriter

Dylan smoking cigarette

Dylan silhouetted against window

(Images courtesy Ted Russell/Polaris/Steven Kasher Gallery, via Yahoo! News)

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