Some of us knew that Bob Dylan liked to swirl since it came out in 2001. Remember Mavis Staples turned down his marriage proposal. I don’t blame him for keeping his marriages secret and out of the spotlight This is definitely easier to do as his born name Robert Zimmerman. He took care of business and was obviously a good dad, as his ex-wife says. No hidden racism as some of the comments in the various articles suggest.
Bob’s a terrific father, says Dylan’s secret wife
By Hugh Davies, Entertainment Correspondent
12:00AM BST 13 Apr 2001
BOB DYLAN’S second wife, to whom he was secretly married for six years, said yesterday that the decision to keep the wedding and their daughter out of the public eye was mutual, and for the child’s benefit.
Carolyn Dennis, who was one of Dylan’s backing singers when they met, said: “To portray Bob as hiding his daughter is just malicious and ridiculous. That is something he would never do. Bob has been a wonderful, active father to Desiree.”
Dennis, an American gospel-rock singer whose mother was a member of Ray Charles’s Raelettes, married Dylan after giving birth to Desiree, his sixth child. Their wedding is revealed by a British author, Howard Soundes. In his biography of Dylan, Down The Highway, Soundes also reveals the address in Tarazana, Los Angeles, where mother and daughter had been living.
Dylan, 60 next month, is notorious for scorning media attention. He is also noted for his dalliances, such as the one with Joan Baez in the 1960s. He refused to co-operate with Soundes for his book. Until now, it has been thought that he was married only once, to Sara Lownes, in November 1965, in a low-key ceremony on Long Island. Even then he shied away from publicity, inviting only two guests, his manager Albert Grossman and a bridesmaid.
The youngest of Sara’s five children, Jakob, is now a rock star in his own right, leading the band The Wallflowers. However, it now emerges that on Jan 31, 1986, 17 years after Jakob’s birth, Dennis, then 31, bore him a daughter at the Humana Hospital, in Canoga Park, California. The child was named Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan, with the name of the father listed on the birth certificate as Robert Dylan. They married six months later, on June 4.
Dylan had dated Dennis on and off, along with other African-American singers, since she started working for him during his 1978 world tour. However, she married a drummer, and after their divorce, re-established the relationship. The singer Maria Muldaur was quoted by the author as saying: “I think he dated some of these black girls because they didn’t idolise him. They were real down to earth, and they didn’t worship him. They are strong women who would just say, cut your bullshit.”
The author said Dylan’s music was not popular in the African-American community. “While women from his own, white middle-class background, often saw him as an overawing presence, he was just another guy to African-American women and this was refreshing to him.”
Ted Perlman, a musician friend of Dylan, said of the wedding: “We were all sworn to secrecy never to mention it.” Dennis said yesterday: “Bob and I made a choice to keep our marriage a private matter for a simple reason – to give our daughter a normal childhood.” She said they took advantage of a California law that allowed them to seal their marriage certificate from public attention.
Dennis said she and Dylan had agreed that their daughter could choose to take her father’s last name when she became mature enough to make a decision. The girl chose to do so two years ago.
Two days after the marriage, Dylan seemed particularly happy on stage with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Los Angeles. Three days later, Dennis was on stage with him in San Diego as a member of his group The Queens of Rhythm. They then toured America together, with her mother Madelyn Quebec singing harmony with her.
Dylan was so enamoured with the pair that he often chose his mother-in-law to sing harmony with him because of her skill in improvising. They also changed his sombre dress style: Dylan started wearing jangly jewellery and dangly earrings, as well as dressing in leather trousers, singlets, leather gloves with cut-off fingers and multicoloured T-shirts. His wife worked with him on the London and Los Angeles sessions of Knocked Out Loaded. Her voice can be heard on Brownsville Girl.
However, they were never photographed together in public, and when Dylan dispensed with his backing singers, Dennis returned to Tarzana where her husband, ever the touring artist, visited her on rare occasions. Dennis filed for divorce on Aug 7, 1990, after four years, and the marriage was dissolved in October 1992.
Dylan is said to have made a multi-million dollar settlement, as well as giving her the house. To keep the divorce quiet, court records listed Dylan under his birth name, R Zimmerman, and a judge made an order to seal the file.
Dennis, who also toured with Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen, was angry at a suggestion that her ex-husband had to perform extensively through the 1990s to help pay for the divorce. “To say I got a huge settlement that forced Bob to do concert tours is fictitious, irresponsible and hurtful.”
Soundes said: “Dylan’s an exceptionally good father and pays towards both Desiree and Carolyn’s upkeep.”