According To Joan Baez, Bob Dylan Threw Temper Tantrums Before Shows

In May 1965 the folk singer Joan Baez wrote a letter to her younger sister, Mimi Fariña. She was on tour in England with her boyfriend Bob Dylan, and things were falling apart, in part because of Dylan's behavior. "He has become so unbelievably unmanageable that I can't stand to be around him," Baez wrote Mimi, according to "Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña." "Everyone traveling with him is going mad — He walks around in new clothes with a cane — Has tantrums."

At least some of these bursts of anger before shows were, in Baez's opinion, related to Dylan's unusual version of stage fright. "He never had the traditional stage fright the way I did, sit down and have diarrhea and feel nauseated for 45 minutes before a concert," she told Rolling Stone in 1972. "He was always bopping around writing songs. But it would come out in another way, a sudden furious tantrum because his coat was stolen one time."

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota, met Joan Baez in 1961, shortly after he'd arrived in New York City to pursue his music in the city's burgeoning folk scene. Baez, who was also born in 1941, was already a folk star with a hit record under her belt by the time they met, and she helped popularize Dylan. The two dated and toured together for several years, with Dylan rising from obscure folky to rock stardom by the mid-1960s.

By the spring of 1965, when Baez flew to England with Dylan for his tour, their relationship had become strained to the breaking point. So it's possible that at least some of his angry outbursts before performing may have been related to their disintegrating bond. But before the English tour, when the two were still doing well, Dylan had a meltdown when his favorite jacket — Baez called it a "horrible little coat" per Rolling Stone — disappeared before a show.

The stolen jacket

Joan Baez hated Bob Dylan's jacket. It was brown, vomit-stained, smelled horrible, and the sleeves were too short, but he loved it. "I'm sure to this day he thinks I must have stolen it," Baez told Rolling Stone. "I was really working on him, trying to get him to get rid of that jacket." When the couple returned to their dressing room before a concert, Dylan's jacket had disappeared. He went ballistic, acting like "a 5-year-old," screaming at the police, their entourage, and Baez, she recalled. She chalked it up to "that kind of tension that I would always think would have something to do with having to perform."

That night, though, was the worst she'd seen. Dylan, "wild-eyed with fury," sent everyone — except Baez — "scurrying," she recalled in Rolling Stone. She talked him down, and he gave a brilliant performance that night. The couple split up in the spring of 1965 but remained friends. Dylan would finally apologize for his behavior toward her more than 40 years later. "I feel very bad about it," Dylan said in 2009, per the Toronto Star. "I was sorry to see our relationship end."