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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Sunday, March 06, 2011


FEB 15: 20th anniversary of the death of Michael Bloomfield (in San Francisco CA, aged 37)
FEB 15: 115th anniversary of the birth of Kokomo Arnold (in Jonesboro GA, 1896)
FEB 16: 15th anniversary of the death of Brownie McGhee (in Oakland CA, aged 80)
FEB 18: 70th anniversary of the birth of David Blue (in Providence RI, 1941)
FEB 24: death of Suze Rotolo (in New York City, aged 67)
MAR 6: 75th birthday of Sylvia Vanderpool Robinson (of Mickey & Sylvia, and more; in NYC, 1936)
MAR 7: 20th anniversary of the death of Little Hat Jones (in Linden TX, aged 81)


Anonymous Kieran said...

I thought the death of Suze Rotolo would have gotten more than a passing mention here, I have to admit. I understand this though, because I think you're on tour yourself, Michael, and probably don't have the time or means to devote to the blog. This is fair enough.

She was one of Bob's three explicit female muses, alongside Joan Baez and his wife Sara, from a time when we knew he was still sourcing his muses. She had a huge influence on him and he was obviously inspired and nudged by her towards some fruitful avenues in his writing, just when he was beginning to form his own voice.

She died relatively young, too. I have to say, I thought it was quite a poignant thing, to hear she'd died. In any history of Bob Dylan, she looms very large indeed...

8:15 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

I'm not away at the moment, though I was away when Suze Rotolo died. But she has a 2046-word entry in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. Isn't that enough?

9:59 pm  
Anonymous Kieran said...

It sure is enough, though in fairness, when other people "Bob-related" have died, you've mentioned their connection and quoted the entry from the encyclopedia, on your blog. I was surprised you didn't take the opportunity to mention her connection to some of his seminal songs. She was very important in his formative years in NYC.

I know, we can't have everything, and I don't expect it, but Suze is one of those girls who seemed "forever young", when we see the cover of Freewheelin', and listen to the songs and stories of those times. And now she's dead, it struck me as being quite sad, more so than many other events in his life...

10:26 pm  
Blogger joe butler said...

Hi Michael
I have to agree with Kieran. Suze's death merits comment and I was surprised you didn't post something special she wasn't just his muse she politicised him and supported him in the earliest writings. She was the girl from Freewheelin'
who everyone dreamt of.

10:06 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Yes, of course, Kieran, you're right: I usually do put the person's Bob Dylan Encyclopedia entry on the blog - but I just bridled at being told what I ought to have written.

And though Kieran was of course perfectly polite about it, I still react that way, Joe. I don't dispute that "Suze's death merits comment": but I just didn't feel like it, OK? It's my prerogative: it's my blog, involves a more than negligible amount of work and is a free service. As for "she wasn't just his muse she politicised him and supported him" etc. - well yes: and I think I said so in that 2046-word entry.

10:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whilst like Kieran I was surprised by your lack of comment on this blog; upon reflection I think it is more important to focus upon Dylan's art rather than individuals we do not know.

12:10 pm  
Blogger joe butler said...

I've got tablets for that irritability gig.
I have to take them in large doses


1:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have to agree with the other commenters Michael.
You post entries from your book here, about the deaths of all sorts of people on the very periphery of Bob Dylan's life and art, it does seem very strange that you didn't do the same for Suze Rotolo.
Your article on Ms.Rotolo is very well written and respectful. But wasn't she quite dismissive towards you and your work? Are you still reeling from the blow?
You say (with an air of grumpiness) that you didn't do it because you didn't feel like it, and that its your blog so you can do with it what you like. That is very true, but we are all entitled have an opinion and to leave our comments.

6:22 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Yes, you're entitled to have an opinion and to submit your comments: and I'm entitled to decide whether to publish them or not. And, as I hope you've noticed, I've always published all but the most abusive comments that come in.

And to suggest that I'm somehow Against Suze Rotolo because she made adversely critical comments about my Encyclopedia - mostly in support of her apparent friend Al Kooper - is to assume a small-mindedness on my part that I don't believe is the case. It's also to assume that I think I'm so important that my not republishing the Suze Rotolo Encyclopedia entry will somehow be Revenge: puh-lease! I don't assume any such thing. I admired Ms Rotolo's stance in life (while never feeling that I knew anything about her as a person), however she felt about my work, and that work always attempted to acknowledge how much of a formative influence she had on Bob Dylan's general development.

9:03 pm  
Anonymous Kieran said...

Ah, I wasn't saying what you ought or oughtn't to do with your own blog, I was just surprised. I also understand that not everything has to go into the blog and that it's entries reflect the preference of the blogger. We read - and occasionally "submit replies" to - the blog because we share the similar interest. But when an honest observation is made - and politely, as you acknowledge - you needn't bridle at it, even though you disagree.

No offence was intended and I wouldn't hold the view that you withheld a post on Suze out of some macabre grudge. That doesn't make sense, to me. Anyhow, may she rest in peace. It seems that a significant piece of Dylan's history has died with her. I haven't read anywhere that he's commented on her passing, which is tasteful, perhaps, on his part...

10:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wilphoMichael;what a storm in a teacup;it is absolutely your right to comment or not to comment;we all have our own lives to get on with and cannot be obliged to broadcast our opinions
"I try my best to be like I am but everybody wants you to be like them"
See you next month
Regards MichaelS

2:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dylan using Henry Rollin's stuff cant hurt sales of Rollin's books none, now that the news has broke. Remember all the Dylan Thomas fuss, didn't Bob say that he did more for Dylan Thomas, than the welsh poet ever did for him, all the kids checking out his stuff because of them having the same name. Looking forward to your Love me Slender show.

6:32 pm  

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