Bob Dylan is being sued in New York City over sexual abuse that the victim says happened in April and May of 1965. The allegation against the legendary songwriter are disturbing to say the least. The timeline the accuser presents is questionable but given that it’s been 56 years, it’s very possible she has her dates off. It’s worth looking into.
Bob Dylan Was On Tour
Bob Dylan’s life has been well chronicled since he first burst into the New York City folk scene in 1961. By 1965, Dylan was a star, having steadily gained a following with the release of a string of folk records. 1965 would also bring huge changes for Dylan when he infamously “went electric” and was derided by folk purists as a sellout. It was around this time that his accuser, referred to as “JC” in the court documents, says he groomed her and plied her with drugs and alcohol at his room at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. JC was 12-years-old at the time.
In the filings, JC says Dylan sexually assaulted her multiple times over the course of six weeks, in April and May of 1965. While the victim deserves to be heard and have her day in court, it’s notable that it appears that Dylan was hardly in New York City during those two months. Looking at his concert schedule for 1965, Dylan arrived in California on March 27th for a concert in Santa Monica with Joan Baez, whom he was dating at the time. They did a short string of dates on the West Coast, ending up in Vancouver on April 9th, before traveling back down for shows in Portland and Seattle on the 23rd and 24th.
Portugal, England, And The Flu
From April 9th until April 30th, Bob Dylan didn’t perform any concerts and he might not have gone back to New York. It’s also been reported he stayed in California with Sara Lownds, his lover that would eventually become his wife. What is documented for sure is that Dylan, his band The Hawks, filmmaker DA Pennebaker and his crew, and Lownds all arrived in England on April 26th, 1965 for the now legendary tour of England. That tour was documented by Pennebaker for the film Don’t Look Back. In an outtake of the movie, available on YouTube, Dylan and Baez are shown leaving Seattle-Tacoma airport on April 25th for London. It’s very possible he never returned to New York after leaving in late March.
The English tour, famous for crowds booing Dylan for going electric, ran through May 10th, followed by a recording session in London on May 12th. Dylan and Lownds then traveled together to Portugal. Press reports from the time state Dylan returned to England on May 24th and was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. Dylan historians disagree on how much longer Dylan was in England, but it was likely at least well into June, returning to New York to begin recording his next album, Highway 61 Revisited, by June 15th.
What This All Means
Ultimately, it remains to be seen what this all means. The case will have to play out in court. There are a lot of possibilities here. There is, for starters, a few gaps in the public timeline when Dylan may well have been in New York. It’s also possible the accuser has mixed up her dates, which is certainly possible after five and half decades. Rock stars in the 60s are somewhat notorious for their affairs with underage girls, so it’s not like any deserve the benefit of the doubt, but there is doubt here, given Dylan’s travels during the months his accuser presents.