Bob Dylan likes to keep his private life private, but those close to the musician say he has a tight relationship with his large family. Dylan has been married twice — though some speculate he has quietly had several more marriages — and he has six children. It’s challenging to manage fame and family life, but Dylan’s friend said he handles it better than most. His children have also said they have a close relationship with their father.
Bob Dylan | Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images
Bob Dylan has a large family
In 1965, Dylan married his first wife, actor and model Sara Lownds. Dylan adopted her daughter from a previous marriage, Maria. The couple shared four other children, Jesse, Anna, Sam, and Jakob. Dylan and Lownds divorced in 1977.
Nearly a decade later, Dylan married his backup singer, Carolyn Dennis, several months after she gave birth to their daughter, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan. The couple divorced in 1992, and their relationship and shared parenthood remained a secret for years.
Bob Dylan | Harry Scott/Redferns
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In 1966, Dylan got into a motorcycle accident and retreated from the public eye. He said that part of the reason for his reclusion was his desire to spend time with his young children.
“Then, I had that motorcycle accident, which put me outta commission,” he told Rolling Stone in 1992. “Then, when I woke up and caught my senses, I realized I was just working 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.”
A friend said Bob Dylan handles his family life better than most
Dylan has a large family, but he has kept his relationship with his children private. His longtime friend Louis Kemp said that while Dylan has a hard time maintaining friendships, he has managed his family life well. According to Kemp, Dylan doesn’t often discuss his children, but they’re one of the most important parts of his life.
“He doesn’t like to bring his family into [the public eye],” Kemp said in the book Down the Highway by Howard Sounes, adding, “He has always kept it private, as much for their protection as anything. He figured out how to deal with it all better than anybody else I have ever seen who became famous.”
In general, Kemp believes that Dylan has effectively managed his fame.
“He didn’t let the tail wag the dog,” Kemp said, noting, “He controlled it and he never got taken in by it.”
His children try to keep their relationship with him private
Dylan’s son Jakob is also a musician, but he avoids talking too much about his father in interviews.
“If people want to talk about Bob Dylan, I can talk about that,” he told The New York Times in 2005. “But my dad belongs to me and four other people exclusively. I’m very protective of that. And telling people whether he was affectionate is telling people a lot. It has so little to do with me. I come up against a wall.”
Jakob Dylan | Michael Kovac/WireImage
Still, he said that Dylan was a good dad who never missed a Little League game.
“Yes, he was affectionate,” he said. “When I was a kid, he was a god to me for all the right reasons. Other people have put that tag on him in some otherworldly sense. I say it as any kid who admired his dad and had a great relationship with him.”