The Truth About Bob Dylan's Relationship With The Beatles

"We all went potty about Dylan," "Dylan" being Bob Dylan, and "we" being "The Beatles," and "potty" meaning something lost to history; we're guessing "we liked the music and became fans on the spot." John Lennon was doing the talking, according to The Atlantic, talking about just when The Fab Four encountered (via vinyl, anyway) the preeminent folk singer of his age. It was springtime in 1964, the Beatles were on a tour of France, and they heard Dylan's album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, his second studio album, for the first time. And liked it. A lot. (Hence, "potty about," above.) They weren't the only ones. The set of recordings, released in 1963, according to NPR, was phenomenally successful, pushed by tracks like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall." (The woman photographed with Dylan for the cover, Suze Rotolo, is often considered one of his muses from that period. She died in 2011.)

Bob and the Beatles met in person later that year, at the Delmonico Hotel in New York City, says The Guardian. If nothing else, the legend says that was the date (August 28, for those keeping track) when the Artist Formerly Known as Robert Zimmerman introduced the lads from Liverpool to the joys of marijuana. And a joyful introduction it was.

The legend is told that the Beatles met Bob Dylan and marijuana the same night

Ringo collapsed into "a giggling mess," says The Guardian; McCartney instructed their roadie to write down everything he (Paul, that is) said, because he'd attained mental clarity for the first time in his life; and Dylan, the instigator, started answering the phone by shouting "This is Beatlemania here!" You know — goofy.

Some like to draw lines of connections between that meeting and what eventually came to be in pop music afterwards. It's true that around that time, Lennon started writing more narrative-driven songs — more folk-like — as opposed to the pop/dance music the Beatles had been producing up to that point. As for Dylan himself, he went on to introduce the world to folk-rock, with mixed results — he was booed for showing up on the stage of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival with a Fender stratocaster electric guitar around his shoulder, says Biography.

In later songs, Lennon would mention Dylan in song. Some think that Lennon songs like "Norwegian Wood" are thoroughly Dylan-influenced, and while Bob did branch out into electrifying his sound, "Lennon wrote a handful of Dylan-esque songs; Dylan never wrote a Lennon-esque one," say Scott Beauchamp and Alex Shephard, writing in The Atlantic. That sort of changed with Dylan's The Tempest, which includes the Lennon tribute, "Roll on, John," acknowledging that the Beatle had become yet another mythic figure to be remembered in song. John was murdered in 1980, so we'll never know if he would have reciprocated in some way.