Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan


"I can't see us goin' anywhere girl..."

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Bob Dylan and Joan Baez

Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo

Echo Star Helstrom - Echo, described as the Minnesotan Brigitte Bardot, was Dylan's first serious girlfriend. She lost her virginity to Bob, who claimed that it was his "first time" as well (though she later found out he had, in fact, lost his virginity to a very close friend of Echo's just a few weeks earlier). They broke up after graduating from high school.
Bonnie Beecher- A beautiful brunette whom he dated in college; is supposedly the inspiration for the song "The Girl From The North Country", although Bob also told Echo the song was for her. She is now married to 60's hipster "Wavy Gravy", Hugh Romney. She now goes by the name Jaharana Romney.

Suze Rotolo - Bob and Suze met in the summer of 1961, when they were both living in New York. Suze and Bob first met at Gerde's Folk City in the Village. Rotolo was 17, and the daughter of a liberal, cultured family. They would date from 1961-1964, with Suze being the muse for some of his most famous songs, including "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" and "Boots of Spanish Leather". In 1963, Suze learned she was pregnent with Bob's child, but instead of keeping the baby, she decided to have an abortion. In early 1964, Suze left for Italy to attend a summer course at the University of Perugia. While she was away, Dylan would have restless nights where he wept over missing Suze so bad. Musician Dave Van Ronk remembers that on many occassions, he would get a phone call at absurd hours of the night, with Dylan in tears on the other line. Upon her return, the two restarted their relationship though Dylan had just begun seeing Joan Baez as well. They appeared as a loving couple on the cover of Freewheelin' but theings were falling apart. Dylan had become too controlling. Due to this as well as Suze's disaproving family (the fall-out between Dylan and Suze's older sister Carla is well-known) and Bob's emerging relationship with Baez, their relationship was coming to an end. Soon, Rotolo opted to live her own life. During the mid-70's Dylan tried to contact her but she decided not to see him. She lives happily with her film editor husband in New York City, and, although their split was bitter, she still has very fond memories of Dylan and the time they shared together.
Mavis Staples - According to an interview with Staples, she and "Bobby" had a relationship for seven years. They met in New York City, when Mavis was performing with her family band The Staple Singers, who Dylan said he'd been listening to since he was 12. For years, she kept the romantic element of the relationship private, though several Dylan biographies recount an episode at the Newport Folk Festival where Dylan yelled, "Pops, I want to marry Mavis!" To which Pops replied, "What you telling me for, tell Mavis!" Mavis was under the impression that he was joking, but Dylan was serious. They discussed marriage, but as Mavis says, "We had gotten with Dr. King and I was young and stupid, and I was thinking Dr. King wouldn't want me to marry a white guy. Finally I told Daddy and he said, 'Mavis, what is wrong with you? Do you see all the white people marching with us?'  I just wasn't thinking, I just knew what our purpose was in the movement and thinking I'd better stay black. It was really too bad. I often wonder when I see Bobby's son Jakob [of the Wallflowers], how would our son have looked and how would he have sounded."  Dylan, she says, "was the love that I lost." They remain friends and last year finally recorded together on "Gotta Serve Somebody," a gospel-focused tribute to the songs Dylan wrote during his born-again Christian period. Dylan sings a revamped blues-rock version of "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking," kicking it off with rough vocals before interrupting the song to tell the band, "Why, look, someone's coming up the road, boys...Hey, it's Mavis Staples of gospel's legendary Staple Singers."

Joan Baez - Joan and Bob first met in 1961, in a Cambridge folk club. He was actually first attracted to her younger sister Mimi, and Joan was not impressed by him. But they re-met in 1963 and then Joan decided it would be a good idea to bring Bob on tours with her, so he would get the attention he deserved for writing all the songs she and other folk acts had begun singing and recording. Joan secretly had a crush on Bob ever since they had met, and even before they started dating, Joan told Mimi they were in love. "I remember, I was living in Paris at the time, and Joanie would send me all the latest American records. She sent me Bobby's Freewheelin album and she pinned a note on the cover of it that said 'my new boyfriend.' I was really surprised because when we first met, Bobby barely even talked to Joanie."

It was when they first toured together that their affair began. Friends said that sometimes you would walk by a dressing room, and see Joan and Bob slow dancing to a pop song on the radio. Or they would always be sitting together, with Bob's head laying on her shoulder, and Joan stroking his hair. Also, a friend of theirs remembers one time in Woodstock, Bob and Joan were sitting together, talking about getting married, and what they would name their children (they had the name Shannon in mind). But in 1965, Joan started to notice a change in Bob. He ignored her out in public, and when he did speak to her, it was only to yell at and humiliate her. One time, when they were out at dinner with Mimi and her husband Richard Farina (who would soon beproducing one of Joan's albums), Bob started making fun of Joan, about her appearance. Joan began to cry and went outside. Richard got up and ran to comfort her, while Mimi dealed with Bob who was laughing. She grabbed his hair and bent his head over the back of the chair. She screamed in his face "Don't you ever make her cry again! Don't you ever treat Joanie like that again, you here me?!!" Bob began to cry and was nearly choking. She let go of him, and went outside to see Joan still crying in Richard's arms. "What a gerk." Farina said.

Even after all this, Joan still went with Bob on his 1965 tour of England, but half way through she came back to America because Bob and his friends were treating her so badly. Baez realized it was truley over when once when she came to visit Dylan at his home in Woodstock, Sara Lowndes answered the door. They began a new friendship in the 1970s when she joined him on the Rolling Thunder tour, with Bob even living with her for a short time. Even if it was a case of two egos clashing, they influenced each other greatly at key points in their lives.

Edie Sedgwick - While Edie was working as a model in New York, he had a brief affair with her in 1965, and he supposedly wrote some of his most famous songs for her, including "Just Like A Woman". She soon began a relationship with Dylan's close friend, Bobby Neuwirth.
Dana Gillespie - The British blues singer first met Dylan on his 1965 English tour when she was 16. They saw each other whenever he came to England and built an enduring friendship. In 1998, Dylan rang asking her to support him on tour. When asked why, he replied "Because you're a great songwriter and you've always been nice." To Gillespie, Dylan will always be the perfect gentleman. "He's amusing, he's spiritual. As for the promiscuity, at least he's honest. Women prefer to be seduced by a brain than bullock. Brains go a helluva long way."

Faridi McFree - Was the nanny Sara Dylan hired for their children during the 1970s, and Bob ended up having an affair with her.
Malka Marom - Was the woman who was sitting with Bob and the children at the breakfast table one day, when Sara came into the kitchen. As Sara was quoted in court during the divorce this was when Dylan also struck her in the face, injured her jaw and told her to leave the house. Malka Marom and Dylan had met via Leonard Cohen, a mutual friend. To learn more about her visit her website

Mary Alice Artes - Refered to as "Queen Bee" on 1978's Street Legal, Artes helped convert Dylan to Christianity. Described by Dylan as "really powerful. She could look really sexy, while meanwhile being one of those competent mothers who would shower you with love and attention..." Dylan reportedly bought her a $25,000 engagment ring in early 1980; later that year he wrote the aptly titled Groom Still Waiting at the Altar. She returned to the east coast to continue her career as an actress.

Helena Springs: Another backing singer that he romanced in the late 70's/early 80's.

Clydie King - Said to be Dylan's second biggest love (after Sara Lowndes), King and Dylan were inseperable during the 1980s. Dylan worked his way through most of the backing singers of the 80s, but King seemed to be his favorite. The couple had a child together in the early 80s, but even though he described their love as one that "surpassed even my understanding", she was eventually superseded in his affections. She now lives in LA.

Carole Childs - A Geffen records executive, she met Dylan at Jakob Dylan's bar mitzvah. The had an ongoing affair throughout the late 80s and 90s. She has remained very close to him over the years.
Susan Ross - was Dylan's girlfriend throughout the 1990s.

Echo Helstrom

Bob Dylan and Mary Travers
Malka Marom

Thank you to the book DYLAN: VISIONS, PORTRAITS, & BACK PAGES.

"Bob Dylan freed your mind,
like Elvis freed your body."

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