American singer Bob Dylan wins Spain's Prince of Asturias arts award

Iconic American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan on Wednesday was awarded Spain's Prince of Asturias arts award, one of the country's most prestigious honors.

"He's a living legend of popular music," said Jose Llado Fernandez-Urrutia, president of the prize's panel of judges.

Dylan, 66, has been one of the most influential popular music artists in recent decades. He is regarded by many as a poet and is frequently mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel literature prize.

His most famous hits include the 1960s anti-war and civil rights protest ballads "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'," and rock songs "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower."

"He's considered one of the most important figures of song, a form in which he combines, in a majestic way, the beauty of his poetry and ethical commitment," said the prize foundation in a statement.

"For this reason, his music and message have had an outstanding influence on several generations of young people," it added.

In 2004, Dylan - born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota - was ranked No. 2 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, second to The Beatles. His most recent recording, "Modern Times," entered the U.S. album charts at No.1 a week after it was released in 2006.

"He pioneered the introduction of literature in popular music, bringing together for the first time European and Afro-American rhythms that were a decisive and revolutionary influence on later generations of musicians," the foundation said.

Eight Prince of Asturias awards are given annually in categories including arts, science, sports and humanities to Spaniards and foreigners alike.

They are announced during the year and presented each autumn in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, capital of the Asturias region.

Last year's arts award was won by Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar.