BOB DYLAN & HIS TRIUMPH | ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE CRASHING

A great archival piece, Highway 61 Revisited…On a Triumph from one of the best sites out there — The Vintagent — on Dylan and his Triumph days, and how the crash ultimately changed his outlook on life, and impacted his music.

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Bob Dylan on his red-and-silver ’64 Triumph Tiger 100 motorcycle.

These photos of Bob Dylan date from 1964/5, when he rode a Triumph on the leafy roads surrounding his home in Woodstock, New York. This charming young folk singer, a man of unpredictable habits, was a charismatic figure on his red-and-silver ’64 Tiger 100. He was often accompanied by a lovely young lady named Joan Baez, who was his early defender, lover, and co-performer, notably at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington, in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his ‘I have a Dream’ speech. Dylan’s music, implicitly political during this period, became anthemic to a generation seeking change.

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Bob Dylan on his Triumph motorcycle, Bearsville, New York, summer 1964.  Facing the camera, Victor Maymudes, Bob’s road manager. Back to camera, painter-musician Bob Neuwirth.  Photo Copyright © John Byrne Cooke

On July 29, 1966, it was announced that he had suffered injuries after ‘locking up the brakes’ on his Tiger 100, not far from his manager Alan Grossman’s house in Woodstock. Though no hospital data records an entry from Bob Dylan, he claimed to have suffered facial lacerations and ‘several broken vertebrae in his neck’. Quite an injury, yet no ambulance was summoned.

Dylan had this to say about his crash: “When I had that motorcycle accident… I woke up and caught my senses, I realized that I was just workin’ for all these leeches. And I didn’t want to do that. Plus, I had a family and I just wanted to see my kids.”

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6 thoughts on “BOB DYLAN & HIS TRIUMPH | ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE CRASHING

  1. Thanks for such an amzaing post. As a Triumph owner and rider since 1972, I thank you for this post and amazing piece of information about Bob Dylan and his bike. I actually thought he had a Bonneville 650cc and so was very interested to know it was the smaller 500cc Tiger 100 – later in the 1970s to be renamed the Daytona. The Tiger 100 was socalled because the first machines in the post-war 1940s to carry this name could produce 100 mph on the race track. I had a 1948 Tiger 100 with the socalled sprunghub rear suspension. Very hard on the backside.
    Triumph are now making a very retro version of the Bonneville which captures the self-same look of Dylan’s Tiger 100. I’m lucky enough to own an Anniversary Bonneville which is a replica of the 1959 first such bike to carry this marque.
    As an side – Dylan I’m told was inspired to write the great country song ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’ after the crash in Woodstock and which was intended and recorded for Gram Parsons and the Byrds. I have a live version of the first time the Byrdss played this song in public. Parsons begins by making a tribute to Dylan for writing it for them.
    Love your blog
    Gerry
    Auckland, New Zealand

  2. A friend of mine has this to say about the “crash” –

    “…it’s almost certain that Dylan never had that crash. (Not that he wasn’t famous for falling off his scooter constantly.) It was a way to get out of contracts and recover from amphetamine abuse.”

    Definitely could account for the sketchy accounts of the incident.

    Interesting.

  3. Fantastic post. I’ve always wanted a Triumph bike. When my dad was looking for a new bike I tried to convince him to get a red Tiger to go with our red Triumph TR4. Didn’t work, he got a new Harley instead.

    -Christine
    N’East Style

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