Bob Dylan And The C Lawsuit

March 9, 2023

Bob Dylan And the C Lawsuit


R.E. Prindle

Here of late I’ve become a little troubled about the recent lawsuit filed against Bob Dylan by a complainant identified only as C by her lawyers.  The charge is that Bob Dylan imprisoned her for six weeks in New York City’s Chelsea Hotel for sexual reasons. 

The charge aroused a large denunciation from Dylan’s ardent fans, one might say disciples.   I know not if the charges are true but, at the same time, something was happening at the Chelsea.  Bob did have rooms there, that’ a fact, although unknown to the general public.  Nineteen sixty-five when this was alleged to have happened, was one of the strangest years of the Sixties Era.  Mind baffling stuff was taking place.  Many strange and weird movies were being screened, ground breaking in their audacity 

I am going to construct a scenario about the alleged Chelsea  incident within the context of the time.  While I can come to no definite conclusion, I think there is a good film at least in the account.

The mores of our time are largely shaped by the movies we see.  We begin, then with the 1963 movie of John Fowles novel, ‘The Collector.’  This was a very influential film, replicated many times in real life in subsequent times expressed in the sexual mores of Britain and the US.

Incredibly the movie was made and released in the same year the book was published.  So the script was either written before the book was published or the day the book was released and rushed into production.  The film astonished us all.  It came across as a blueprint to be followed.

The idea was that a young man took a fancy to a young twelve year old girl who attended a London school.  He abducted her coming  from school and placed her in an underground wine cellar on his estate.  He didn’t molest her as he hoped that she would learn to love him and settle in with him.  She refused and the movie continued as one might expect.  I’m speculating that Dylan saw the movie and it made an indelible impression on him as it did us all.

In her autobiography, Dandelion, Catherine James says she was introduced to Dylan as a thirteen year in 1963.  Devoting a few pages to Bob she says that it was a sparkling romance, although ‘platonic,’ if that is believable.

Now we shift to New York City in 1964.  The social scene in NYC was vibrant.  Drugs, amphetamine, ruled the scene. The city was saturated with amphetamines.  Dylan was a partaker.  Andy Warhol and his crowd lived on amphetamines.  And had captured the attention of the art world by using the image of a Cambell’s soup can as a topic, one might say a portrait.  That fact might not have become general knowledge but for Time Magazine seizing on Warhol and the Pop Art phenomenon promoting it aggressively for years.

Time Magazine at the time was the trend setter of American magazine publishing.  One might say that Time was instrumental in creating this period.  Warhol, the Beatles and Dylan formed a large part of the entertainment section of the magazine.  Thus in 1965 Dylan, Edie Sedgwick and Any Warhol were the center of notoriety.  Within NYC Edie was famous, if not more famous than Dylan himself.  Within the Bohemian community the two people were the talk.  Outside the bohemian community they were probably unknown, still their lives were and would be influential.

Dylan had met Edie Sedgwick, who was the talk of the town, when his sidekick, Bobby Neuwirth virtually snatched Edie off the street and brought her to the venue at which Dylan was performing in December 1964.  Neuwirth introduced Edie, who was a lovely if totally insecure girl to Bob and the two hit it off.  Dylan was smitten by her.  The romance developed quickly into January at which time Dylan was booked into his fabled folk tour of England.

He persuaded Edie to say she would wait for him until he returned in May.  Of course she promised but as soon as Bob’s plane was airborne she changed her allegiance to Andy Warhol thereby setting off a serious feud between Dylan and himself.  Andy wooed Edie by promising her movie roles in his worthless films.  The movies well received in what was then known as the counter-culture but were rejected by general society.

Now, up to this point in his career Dylan had been a political folksinger.  He was the darling of the civil rights crowd.  He performed solo with his guitar and harmonica dressed in his vision of an Okie farm laborer and singing with a hokey invented accent.

So far, so good.

Up to this point in his career Dylan had sung and written politically correct songs.  He was actually revitalizing a dormant crowd of folkies.  Folk music was on a solid downward trend until he came along.  The catch was that he wanted to be a rock and roll singer.  The folk scene was just a shuck with an easy entry into recording.  Thus unknown to anyone he had signed a rock band to back him up with electric instruments for the tour.

In England he played his opening set as expected solo with his guitar and harmonica and was adoringly received.  For the second set he brought out his electric band.  There are videos of this on the internet and viewed from a musical sense it was just a noisy, uncoordinated, raucous scarcely understandable set.

His audience was shocked and offended feeling betrayed as, actually, they were.  Dylan by this time was nearly a cult figure to core, almost worshipful, followers.  They began to boo loudly and continuously. And audiences kept booing all around England.  When booed as vociferously as they were the usual reaction is to get off stage or stop what you’re doing.  Dylan plowed straight ahead ignoring the response.  There’s video of the next bit available too.  Someone in the audience shouted ‘Judas!’ which gives evidence of their solemnity.  Judas of course is the disciple who betrayed Jesus.  Bob shouted back ‘You’re a liar.’  And kept on going.

There are videos of this so that you can see the whole thing.  You can see Dylan going into shock.  Now, this is important, Dylan suffered psychological damage from this booing.  One of the band members quit the band because he couldn’t stand the constant booing.  Neither could Dylan actually although he wasn’t deterred.  And then he returned to the US with shattered nerves.  He had to have.  He perhaps returned with expectations of taking up where he left off with Edie.  If you’ve had a bad love affair you still can’t imagine the effect this likely had on his shattered self-esteem from the booing.  He could still conjure it up.

It was this time in early June when Bob attended a Warhol party and he and Edie went into a corner to discuss what he considered her betrayal.  Now, these were all very young people doing a lot of drugs, mainly amphetamines, where fidelity was not thought highly of.  The theme song was:  If you’re not with the  one you love,  love the one you’re with.  That phrase was thought to be really clever.  Bob had not been faithful to Edie while overseas.  So…

Did Bob really expect a young psychologically  unsettled woman who he had just met to sit around and wait for him for five months.  A woman who was the talk of the town.  Did he think no one would make a move on the belle of the town?  Apparently he did.

Andy Warhol wasted no time.  He had moved in:  ‘Hello Baby, want to be in the movies?’  Edie did and she went with the Warhols.  Now she was attempting to explain this to Bob perhaps per John Sebastian and the Lovin’ Spoonfuls song:    Have you ever had to make up your mind, pick up on one and leave the other one behind; it’s not often easy and not always kind.  Did you ever have to make up your mind?  Bob should have but with the booing ringing through his mind he was enraged by this rejection.

He went home and raged  for a couple weeks then sat down and vomited up his disappointment in the crazily raging song ‘Like A Rolling Stone.’  The rolling stone was perhaps Edie who rolled from him to Andy.  And then a month later Dylan in a hate filled screed called ‘Positively Fourth Street’ blasted Andy Warhol.

Keep in mind now that I don’t say what follows happened, nevertheless fifty some years later a woman appears and claims that when she was a teenager Bob coaxed her into his rooms at the Chelsea Hotel where he kept her for his sexual amusement for six weeks.  The woman’s lawyers refused to reveal her name other than the initial C.  Obviously she expected Bob to understand who had filed the suit, the C being the giveaway.  We don’t know, but perhaps the intent was merely a shakedown, if indeed Bob was guilty of something.  After a few weeks the suit was withdrawn.

A fact is that Bob did have rooms at the Chelsea.  The door to his room was recently sold along with other doors when the Chelsea remodeled.

So, we have the Collector movie of 1963 that Bob had undoubtedly seen, we have the unnerving booing, and it is a fact because it is on film even when a fan called out ‘Judas’ and Bob answered ‘You’re a liar.’ Then we have Bob’s disappointed sexual expectations disappointed when he felt rejected by Edie, we have his violent emotional outbreaks that were broadcast nationwide, even internationally  in his songs ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and ‘Positively Fourth Street’.  The songs indicate a distressed mind and Bob didn’t care who knew it.   In fact, he wanted to unburden his mind to the whole, wide, entire world.  And…he had the means to do it.

We don’t have a confirmed identity for C.  Remember Catherine James?  C. could stand for Catherine.  Bob’s mind would definitely have to turn that way because if he knew Catherine as well as she says he did, and if so in the circumstances she says he knew her than I find it hard to believe that he didn’t seduce the thirteen year old Catherine James.

I have had slight contact with Catherine after publishing my review of her autobiography Dandelion.   I questioned her Dylan stories but she assured me that she does not lie.  She had some amazing contacts as a groupie, including as a live in with Mick Jagger that sounds like a stretcher but I have validated that and all those other claims and they are true.  Pamela Des Barres could also confirm them in her auto-biography ‘I’m With The Band’.  Catherine doesn’t lie as she emailed me but that doesn’t mean she can keep her dates straight.

Yet I can find no record of Bob having been in California for an extended stay in 1963.  Catherine was in NYC in 1964-65 as a fifteen year old.  She also has connections to Connecticut, in which State the suit was filed.  She does record running into Bob in NYC but he fluffed her off as though he didn’t know her.  Whether he might have looked her up after he knew she was in NYC is possible.  Catherine may not lie but she doesn’t have to tell all.

Connecticut lawyers took C’s. case and publicly announced it, nobody had to dig it out.  Later they retracted it.  A couple things could have happened if Bob realized that there was a basis for the suit.  One, C. could have chickened out.  Two, Bob could have bought C off to avoid adverse publicity.

At any rate he is said to have put his future wife Sara up at the Chelsea. The war between he and Warhol continued on through 1966.  As Edie went with Andy because of the movie offers, Dylan through 1965 tried to woo Edie back with a promise of a starring role in a movie he and his manager Albert Grossman said they were going to make, and that kept Edie on tenterhooks wavering between he and Warhol.  In November of 1965 it was announced to Edie that Bob had secretly, or at least quickly, married Sara.

Edie was devastated, crushed and destroyed.  Then rubbing salt into Edie’s wounds as a final blast he set down and vomited out his song Sooner or Later (One Of Us Must Know)  Once again blaring it to the world.  Then, he turned Edie over to his sidekick Bobby Neuwirth.  From Bobby she went on to debasement after debasement released finally by death.

The identity of C remains a mystery, she appeared suddenly and just as suddenly disappeared.  Strange that no sleuth has detected her identity.  I do believe that there may been a basis for the lawsuit however.  Bob always was careless with women.


Des Barres, Pamela:  I’m With The Band

Fowles, John: The Collector, book 1963, movie 1963

James, Catherine: Dandelion (Memoir Of A Free Spirit) 2007

Prindle, R.E. A Review: Catherine James: Famous Groupies Of The Sixties | I, Dynamo (

Shelton, Robert:  No Direction Home, 1986

Shelton, Robert: No Direction Home. The Life And Music Of Bob Dylan (Revised and Updated Edition by Elizabeth Thomson and Patrick Humphries,)  2011

Stein, Jean:  Edie, An American Biography, 1982

Warhol, Andy & Pat Hackett:  Popism, The Warhol Sixties.

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