I thought I read that somewhere, but I can’t find any trace of it on the internet; I’m doing a report on Dylan Thomas and want to put that little tidbit in – if it’s true.
His real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, which is Jewish. In one of the Dylan bios he used the stage name Bob Dillon, the surname Dillon coming from Matt Dillon of the TV show “Gunsmoke” the he liked, and he like westerns, just before he left Dinkytown (to all his college friends derision). Some where along the line to the NYC folk scene, it morphed to Bob Dylan.
This “story” is probably the closest to the truth than all the others: Dylan was always in showbiz for the money. Just as others in the biz like Ethel Merman (Ethel zimMERMAN) needed a short/catchy/etc, name for the billboard Robert Zimmerman at first decided on Bob Dillon (a tip of the hat to his TV hero Matt Dillon). At some time before he was asked for a stage name in NYC he discovered the Welsh name Dylan (very catchy homonym: connected with poetry ala Dylan Thomas but obscure to most Americans). I could see BD using the Welsh name without reading the DT poetry (at first anyway) – it was just a real COOL spelling.