It’s been a bad 2016 for great musicians. Since January, we’ve lost David Bowie, Prince, Phife Dawg, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell… please don’t make me keep going. It’s too depressing. Someone keep an eye on Chuck Berry.
Meanwhile, Bob Dylan, at 75 years young, is having himself quite the year. The legendary singer-songwriter released a warmly received new album; played Desert Trip alongside Paul McCartney (please don’t die) and Neil Young (same); and refused to acknowledge winning the Nobel Prize in Literature for weeks. Bob Dylan: he’s been best at giving no f*cks since the 1960s.
Speaking of: The Band guitarist Robbie Robertson wrote a memoir, Testimony, about, among other topics, his time on the road with Dylan in 1966. The 47-date world tour began in United States and ended nearly four months later with two shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which were later released as The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert. At tour’s end, Dylan was positively strung out on amphetamines (he later told Jann Wenner that “I was on drugs, a lot of things”) and could barely stand up, according to Rolling Stone, even when the Beatles were in the next room.
After the final show of the tour at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Beatles dropped by Dylan’s hotel to pay their respects, but Robertson had to keep the Fab Four waiting because the singer-songwriter was so physically depleted and delirious he “looked like he was passed out sitting up.” Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman and Robertson put Dylan in a hot bath to freshen him up, but the plan almost seriously backfired. “I hurried back into the bathroom, only to find that Bob had sunk down into the water and was starting to bubble,” writes Robertson. “My heart stopped for a moment. Damn, I thought, he could really drown here. I pulled him back up in the tub.”
The Beatles eventually went home without seeing Dylan, meaning the only time the icons ever congregated was in 1964, when they smoked weed together. That meet-cute is a lot more charming than “Dylan Dies In Bathtub With Beatles Nearby, Yoko Ono To Blame.” (Yoko wasn’t in John Lennon’s life yet, but I’m sure some angry Beatles fan would find a way to tie it back to her.)