Tales of Bob Dylan, Camden, Crouch End and Dave

Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales

Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales - Credit: PA/McNidder & Grace

“Is Dave here?” 

Considering he’s one of the most acclaimed wordsmiths of our times, this phrase at the centre of one of London’s enduring Bob Dylan tales is somewhat mundane. 

It is just one of the stories recounted in Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales by Jackie Lees and KG Miles, released this year. 

The story goes that Dylan, who turns 80 this month, had flown in to work with Dave Stewart, from the Eurythmics, and had a scribbled address for the studio.  

Dylan gave the address to his taxi driver as Crouch End Hill, rather than Crouch Hill.  

Asked “is Dave here?”, the woman who answered the door invited him in for a cup of tea while they awaited Dave – her husband Dave, the plumber, that is. 

From the day his career began, Dylan was a mythmaker, although this one, which has become a classic over the years, was not of his own making. 

It’s a cute story and, like much of the Dylan legend, should be taken with pinch of salt. 

Perhaps the most famous of London's Bob Dylan legends was the heckle of “Judas!” during an electric set in 1966. For years bootleg recordings attributed the incident to a gig at the Royal Albert Hall, when in fact it was at The Free Trade Hall, in Manchester. 

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Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales charts the singer’s connections with the city, from his first visit in 1962, through seminal tours in 1966 and 1978, to a very public visit to Camden in 1993.

The cover of that year’s album, World Gone Wrong, features Dylan sitting in Flukes Café before going on a walkabout leading fans around Camden Town, captured for posterity in the video for Blood In My Eyes.   

Troubadour Tales is both a guide book and history of the impact of London on Dylan, and the lasting legacy of Bob Dylan on the London music scene. It is out now in paperback, published by McNidder & Grace.