Bob Dylan Stopped By Cops Who've Never Heard Of Him : The Two-Way Henry Louis Gates Jr. take note. Even Bob Dylan can get queried by cops like a man who's up to no good.
NPR logo Bob Dylan Stopped By Cops Who've Never Heard Of Him

Bob Dylan Stopped By Cops Who've Never Heard Of Him

Henry Louis Gates Jr. take note. Even Bob Dylan can get queried by cops like a man who's up to no good.

Bob Dylan in 2006. Jeff Christensen/AP Photo hide caption

toggle caption
Jeff Christensen/AP Photo

One of the most famous musicians and songwriters of all time happened to be in Long Branch, N.J., a stop on a tour he's doing with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.

He was ambling down a residential street, like a rolling stone perhaps, just checking out the houses and trying to pass the time before the show, when someone dropped a dime on him, saying he looked shady.

A police officer arrived on the scene. A cop who didn't know Bob Dylan from Dylan Thomas.

Associated Press reporter Wayne Parry has a classic lead on his story about the incident:

Rock legend Bob Dylan was treated like a complete unknown by police in a New Jersey shore community when a resident called to report someone wandering around the neighborhood.

You can't top a lead like that. Of course it probably would be lost on the cop who stopped Dylan

Another excerpt from the AP story:

A 24-year-old police officer apparently was unaware of who Dylan is and asked him for identification, Long Branch business administrator Howard Woolley said Friday.

"I don't think she was familiar with his entire body of work," Woolley said.

The incident began at 5 p.m. when a resident said a man was wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood several blocks from the oceanfront looking at houses.

The police officer drove up to Dylan, who was wearing a blue jacket, and asked him his name. According to Woolley, the following exchange ensued:

"What is your name, sir?" the officer asked.

"Bob Dylan," Dylan said.

"OK, what are you doing here?" the officer asked.

"I'm on tour," the singer replied.

A second officer, also in his 20s, responded to assist the first officer. He, too, apparently was unfamiliar with Dylan, Woolley said.

The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer of such classics as "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Blowin' in the Wind" said that he didn't have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night's show.

Dylan cooperated with the officers, who took him back to the resort where he was staying and performing, and the staff confirmed he was who he said.

Parry ends his story with another great Dylanesque riff:

How did it feel? A Dylan publicist did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Friday.

First, you have to give Dylan credit. Here's one of the wealthy gods of the music and entertainment world and before a show he's walking through a low-income, minority neighborhood, apparently just checking it out. He could've done a tour from the back seat of a limo.

But there he was on foot, walking a neighborhood the cops probably don't even travel by foot. It just adds to his legend, if you ask me.

Also, you'd think it would be hard to be Dylan and anonymous. Apparently, its' not, especially in Long Branch.

Now Bruce Springsteen, that would be an entirely different matter.