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Bob Dylan nearly chose ‘Little Willie’ as his stage name

The revelation comes courtesy of Dylan's love letters which have now sold at auction

By Nick Reilly

Bob Dylan pictured wearing a cream hat while performing live in 2017
Bob Dylan pictured in 2017. (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Raph_PH)

Bob Dylan nearly opted for the potentially troublesome stage name ‘Little Willie’, love letters sent by the singer have revealed.

The hugely influential US singer – real name Robert Allen Zimmerman – considered the name alongside ‘Elston’, among other fresh revelations to emerge in a collection of 42 love letters he penned between 1957 and 1959.

Dylan wrote the letters when he was roughly 16-years-old to school sweetheart Barbara Hewitt. Hewitt shared a history class with the fledgling star, who told her his ambitious dream of selling a million records.

Hewitt kept the letters until her death two years ago, before her daughter sold them at a Boston auction for for $670,000 (£563,000) last week. They are now in the ownership of Livraria Lello, a Portuguese bookshop.

Bobby Livingston, the executive VP of RR Auction House, said: It’s the formative years of Bob Zimmerman transforming into Bob Dylan. The beginning of the Bob Dylan myth.”

One letter saw Dylan invite Hewitt to a Buddy Holly concert, not long before the singer perished in the 1959 plane crash that also claimed the lives of Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. In his invite, Dylan drew a fictional band with text that read: “‘Little’ Willie, lead singer of the Night Gales.”

In other Bob Dylan news, a fan of the singer recently told Rolling Stone UK how he bought tickets for the singer in London – only to realise he was actually off to see upcoming pop star Dylan.

While pop star Dylan is known only by her first name, fans of music icon Bob often refer to him using just his surname – sparking the mistake when fan Andy Day purchased the tickets.

Andy , 54, still went to the show at London’s KOKO earlier this month with his 76-year-old father-in-law Eric and wife. He hailed the hotly-tipped singer, who has supported the likes of Ed Sheeran and Bastille, as a “brilliant performer”.