Self Portrait Photo shoot
Putnam Valley, New York
Photos by John Cohen, taken at Cohen's farm

On 25 May 1997, Bob Dylan was hospitalized with histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is an infection from the histoplasma capsulatum fungus which enters the body through the lungs. Histoplasma fungus grows in soil. Environments contaminated with bird or bat droppings contain a higher level of the fungus. 

Amongst some of those most at danger from the infection are poultry farmers who spend time cleaning roosts and coops. 

People have speculated that Bob Dylan contracted histoplasmosis from his own chickens on his own farm. Andy Gill wrote in 2001 that 'shortly before being diagnosed with the illness, Dylan had for a period been holed up by a blizzard on his Minnesota ranch'. If he likes doing farm chores, this is a possibility. 



19720725/26 [?]
Attending a Rolling Stones Concert

Madison Square Gardens
Either 25 or 26 July 1976

Sporting a straw hat with a small feather. 


From EDLIS Cafe

"The Roxy had its grand opening on September 20, 1973. Geffen's own group that night included Bob and Sara Dylan and Robbie and Dominique Robertson. Cher, wearing a straw cowboy hat with a big feather in it, stepped into the club. Seeing an empty seat at Geffen's table, she asked the group if she could join them. At a break in the set, Dylan pointed to Cher's hat.

"Can you get me one of those?" he asked dryly."

- from The Operator, by Tom King, Random House

Hat envy? ;-) 


October 1972

Doug Sahm Sessions
Atlantic Recording Studios
New York City, New York


Read about Doug Sahm in the Bob Dylan's Who's Who



As Alias in Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid
Director: Sam Peckinpah




August 1973

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Sheffield, Alabama

Barry Goldberg recording session, produced by Bob Dylan & Jerry Wexler.




1974 tour, 
3-4 January

Photo by Barry Feinstein

This hat is not a ushanka as it has no ear flaps. It could be described as either a Russian 'military-style' hat, or a 'Cuban Cossack style'Such hats have been worn throughout the centuries by Russian Cossacks living on the banks of the Cuban River. The hats are 'soft and cozy' and are usually made of Persian lamb's wool.

Кубанский Казачий. 




Felt Forum
Madison Square Gardens
New York City, New York
7 May, 1974
Friends of Chile Benefit Concert 

Lawrence Morrissey recalls an encounter with Bob Dylan:

' Everyone was just kind of hanging around the flowerpot when someone realized that Dylan had left his guitar unattended back in the dressing room and tore off to fetch it. Bob kept saying, over and over, “My guitar. My guitar. What would I do without my guitar?” This brought laughter from his friends.

Just then Dylan dropped a vest he’d been clutching underneath his brown-leather bomber jacket. As he bent down to retrieve it, some jerk ran by and stole the cap off his head. Dylan stood straight up, grabbed his head, and began screaming, “My hat. He took my hat.”

Realizing what had happened, I dashed off after the thief. During my pursuit, I noticed Dennis Hopper running behind me. I cornered the kid in a doorway and coerced him into returning the hat. As the kid ran off into the night, Hopper approached and said, “Hey, that was pretty cool what you just did. Why don’t you come to the after-show party?” '


1974, 9-10 January

Toronto, Canada

Touring with The Band

Graham Bezant/Toronto Star File Photo





Missouri Arena
St. Louis, Missouri
Evening show

"At one point while Dylan was singing, Leon Russell danced out on stage and put his cowboy hat on Dylan's head for a moment. Dylan gestured at the mic, but Leon just danced on off stage." 




YMCA, Los Angeles.
Preparing for the Basement Tapes cover photo shoot by photographer and graphic designer Reid Miles.

Standing to the left of the photo in a derby hat and trench coat is David Blue

It is hard to find a basement in L.A. and the place chosen for this occasion was the local YMCA building, which had a basement filled with pipes and machinery. The above picture was taken upstairs in the YMCA, where people were gathered to change clothes and select costumes. The final photo shoot took place in the basement. 

Reid Miles had brought many costumes and hats that day, for the participants to select an atmospheric and meaningful 'look'. Bob Dylan also had his well-known Cheumash Native American blanket jacket, which he is captured removing in the above photograph. 

There are at least six hats visible in the above photo... maybe even seven? 

Also present at the photo shoot was John Scheele (and his brother, Bill Scheele) who told Carol Caffin a little about that day in an interview for BandBites, published 29 December, 2008. 

Interview extract: 

CC: But what about the commercial release of The Basement Tapes in '75? And the photo shoot itself. You were there, right, John?

JS: Yeah, the shot of Bill and Garth was from that day that the Basement Tapes cover shoot was being done -- it was a Reid Miles shoot.

CC: Right. And Bob Cato? He was involved in the cover, right?

JS: Yeah, Bob Cato was the overall designer for the album.

BS: He was the art director.

JS: Reid should get a lot of credit for the shoot though -- it was really his specialty. Reid had a great reputation of his own. He did those Blue Note [record label] albums -- beautiful work, and graphically very striking. His photo business in Hollywood included occasionally putting together a tableaux of unusual characters; he was like a Fellini in that still-photography world. The Basement Tapes shoot was very much his thing- including finding the place to stage it, since there aren't a lot of basements in Los Angeles. [laughs] So it was at the Hollywood YMCA, of all places...

CC: Is that where it was? Can you tell me about it?

JS: Yeah, in their boiler room -- there was an area with pipes and mechanical gear all around. He'd brought together a cast of characters to represent the Basement Tapes -- Mrs. Henry, Quinn the Eskimo, and other characters that either came out of the songs or fit in with Bob's imagery. There's a beautiful scene in I'm Not There -- the Richard Gere episode -- that reminds me a lot of his shoot and the characters Dylan created. Reid helped bring all that out...

CC: Wasn't David Blue in the shoot?

JS: Yeah, David Blue was there as well; he was prominent on the cover, an old friend and colleague of Bob's. Part of the mystique of those Basement Tapes recordings is that there are no photos of the actual sessions, as far as I know. The recordings tell it all. Of course, there are some great pictures from right around the same time and just after...

CC: Elliott's photos?

JS: Yeah, photos that Elliott took. They give you the best sense of that period, but no cameras were ever in the basement with Dylan and The Band. So Reid's cover shots represent the music, in most people's minds...

CC: What was the shoot like?

JS: Everyone was having a great time preparing for it -- getting dressed, trying on costumes.

CC: So tell me, was all that planned specifically for that shoot? I never thought to ask Rick how that getup he was wearing came about. And Richard -- that uniform. Also, the poses...

JS: Yeah, I took a few shots of everyone getting ready for the shoot. The photos naturally help me remember what was going on. You probably have experienced this -- that the act of taking a photograph creates a special memory in itself.

CC: You had a cool behind-the-scenes perspective.

JS: Reid had brought in racks of clothes, a pre-fitted selection like you'd do for a casting call, to have pieces ready that would fit Bob or one of the other guys. I know there had to be some special requests because Ed Anderson, who was one of the team by then, was dressed up as a pageant queen. It was a lot of fun, because Ed's tall and gangly and does not make a very attractive girl. [laughs]

CC: Did those guys pick their own stuff?

JS: They all tried stuff on upstairs. When we went downstairs, I didn't take a lot of pictures or intrude into the session, because it was Reid's photo shoot. I only took a few snapshots of them getting ready, kind of documentary shooting. A few pictures show Bob posing people, moving them around in the shot. Reid had roughed out the basic composition, but Bob helped everyone strike their poses, adding to the surrealism.

CC: I can't picture him doing that.

JS: It was a great moment! Bill and I are in Reid's cover shot -- back in the smoky haze. My pictures aren't the greatest quality, but they give some insight...

CC: And they are in the moment, I'm sure.

JS: Yeah, and Reid was famous for destroying his own outtakes. He would have picked his best transparencies -- in this case, color slides -- and submitted them to Columbia. He'd reduce any second-guessing by basically saying "not only are these the best shots, they're the only shots." [laughs]

To read a little more background about the photo shoot and Basement Tapes cover photo, have a look at Jim Linderman's Essays on Bob Dylan site. 



Gerdes Folk City, New York.

On 23 October 1975, Bob Dylan and the newly-formed Rolling Thunder Revue previewed their show at Mike Porco's 61st birthday party at Gerdes Folk City before beginning their tour formally on 30 October 1975 in Plymouth. 

Amongst the people present at Gerdes that night was Phil Ochs. The film crew were recording for what was to become the movie Renaldo & Clara and the footage that remained in the movie was the last known footage of Phil Ochs. 

As detailed in the biography of Ochs, Death of A Rebel (Marc Eliot, 1979, p. 173-174), just as Phil Ochs was beginning his set, he called to Bob Dylan and borrowed his 'thunderclap' hat. He wore it for the performance and into the evening, before Dylan sent David Blue to retrieve it at approximately 4 am. 

In his book, Bob Dylan Performing Artist 1974-1986 The Middle Years, Paul Williams wrote about the moment:

The movie's triumph is that it allows spirit, not some thinking filmmaker, to be in control, and a (still life) portrait of spirit in motion is what results. The same with Renaldo's blue hat, symbol of performance ("who's Dylan?" "he's the one with the hat"), moving through the scenes (so nice the dissolve from Phil Ochs putting it on his head - "the hat, Bobbie!" - to hat on table in Yetnikoff's office, one feels the camera following the hat and understands therefore how we got here), sometimes the flower's on the hat -" (Williams, p. 103)



by Ken Regan
Desire album cover session

Wearing the Rolling Thunder Revue hat, The Thunderclap which is a flat-brimmed Stetson with a flat 'gambler style' crown, although more indented than the hat sported in the 2010s. It has been called a 'gaucho hat'.



Desire album cover

Recorded July, August, October 1975
Released January 1976




Madison Square Garden
New York City, New York
8 December 1975
Night of The Hurricane 1




As discussed by Sean Wilentz in his book Bob Dylan in America, there are similarities between the 1945 Marcel Carné movie ‘Les Enfants du Paradis’ (Children of Paradise) and the creative ideas of Bob Dylan during the Rolling Thunder Revue / Renaldo and Clara period. 

It is the character of Baptiste who is of most interest to Dylan fans (pictured below). A mime who wears white face make-up, he also appears at one point wearing a pale wide-brimmed hat with flowers and a flowing scarf around his neck. 



Bob and his beagle friend make an important phone call during the Rolling Thunder revue tour.

Photo by Ken Regan. 

Ken Regan has been shooting Bob Dylan since 1965, producing many 'iconic' pictures during that time. He brings to the table the ability to capture Bob Dylan's sense of humour - an element many other photographers seem to miss. 

His portfolio Bob Dylan by Ken Regan, is available from the Morrison Hotel Gallery New York



Toronto, Canada
Filming 'Renaldo and Clara'



Montreal, Canada

Used as the cover photograph for 'Rolling Stone' magazine, 15 January 1976.




Starlight Ballroom
Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Clearwater, Florida
22 April 1976 – Two shows - afternoon and evening

By 1976, the wide-brimmed hat was replaced by the scarf that had previously been knotted around his neck. The above scarf can be seen in the picture below:




On 30 October, 1976, The Band appeared as the musical guest on the Saturday Night Live TV show. They performed "Life is a Carnival", "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", "Stage Fright" and "Georgia On My Mind". 

About 14 minutes into the episode, a man who looked a lot like Bob Dylan -- wearing a coonskin cap, long hair, shades and a beard -- was briefly featured in the audience. Could this have actually been Bob Dylan?

Compare this to the coonskin cap pictures from 1967, as featured on the 1960s page of this website. 

And then there is the rather Dylanesque caption 'Electoral College Dropout'

What is your opinion? 



Bob Dylan with Ronee Blakely backstage at The Roxy.
Photography by Brad Elterman.  



The Last Waltz
San Francisco, California
25 November 1976



1978 [?] 

Promo photos by Annie Liebowitz
Either late 1977 or early 1978
Just a song and dance man! 



Photo by Annie Liebowitz

Black velvet... 



Western Springs Stadium 
Auckland, New Zealand
Sound check for the show on 9 March 1978





Western Springs Stadium 
Auckland, New Zealand
9 March 1978


In the style of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.



Blackbushe Aerodrome

Camberley, England




In 1978, an article by Jacques van Son retold the story of Bob Dylan's arrival in Paris for the European leg of his tour that year. 

"As is well-known, Paris is one of Dylan's favourite cities, and he was spotted on the streets numerous times during his stay there, usually in the late afternoons, including one stop at an exclusive shop to try on as many as thirty hats before finally purchasing one that he brought with him onstage -- but did not wear -- that evening."


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