NPR logo

Suze Rotolo, Dylan's Cover Girl, Has Died

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Suze Rotolo, Dylan's Cover Girl, Has Died

Music Articles

Suze Rotolo, Dylan's Cover Girl, Has Died

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Early in his career, Bob Dylan was young and in love in New York. The object of his affection was a teenager named Suze Rotolo.

Rotolo died Friday of lung cancer at the age of 67, and NPR's Margot Adler has this remembrance.

MARGOT ADLER: Suze Rotolo began dating Dylan in 1961, when she was just 17. She was described in Rolling Stone magazine as being the muse behind some of Bob Dylan's early love songs, including "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."

(Soundbite of song, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right")

Mr. BOB DYLAN (Singer): (Singing) I once loved a woman, a child I am told. I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul. Don't think twice, it's all right.

ADLER: A photograph of Rotolo and Dylan became the iconic cover of the 1963 album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." The two were photographed walking arm in arm down the street.

In Dylan's biographical book, "Chronicles, Volume One," he compares Rotolo to a Rodin sculpture come to life. At the end of her life, Rotolo wrote her own memoir, titled "A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the '60s."

Rotolo told WHYY's FRESH AIR in 2008 about their attraction to each other.

Ms. SUZE ROTOLO: We were very curious, and we were both in search of poetry. And we fed each other's curiosity. I was exposed to all different kinds of music from a very early age. My mother loved Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf. And when you grow up in that, you just assume everybody else knows all this, whereas with Bob, he heard this music and knew this is what he wanted to investigate, but he had a harder time finding it.

ADLER: Rotolo came from an immigrant Italian communist family and was working for a civil rights group when she met Dylan. They kept secrets from each other. She didn't tell him about her communist background; he didn't tell her his name was really Zimmerman.

Her own left-wing views may well have influenced Dylan's political awakening, but eventually, they broke apart.

Ms. ROTOLO: I just felt that there was no longer - I no longer had a place in this world of his music and fame. And I more and more felt more and more insecure that I was just a string on his guitar. I was just this chick. And I saw it as a small, cloistered, specialized world that I just didn't belong in it.

ADLER: After she broke up with Dylan, she married an Italian film editor, and they had a child, Luca. She was with her husband when she died.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.