Getty Images, Instagram.com/desidennisdylan
Source: Getty Images, Instagram.com/desidennisdylan

Bob Dylan Had Been a 'Wonderful' Father to Biracial Daughter Despite 'Malicious' Claims, Ex-Wife Said

Titi Dokubo
Mar 08, 2022
07:40 A.M.
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After Bob Dylan divorced his ex-wife Sara, with whom he shared five children, news sites picked up the news that he had been having a relationship with his backup singer for years.

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Bob Dylan and his backup singer turned out to have married secretly and share a daughter they kept out of the spotlight.

The news claimed the singer hid their child, but his ex-wife, the backup singer, denounced those allegations and spoke about his role as a dad.

Bob Dylan meeting with the British press on April 28, 1965 [left], Photo of Carolyn Dennis and Desiree Dennis-Dylan [right] | Source: Getty Images, Instagram.com/desidennisdylan

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Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan, who was influenced by Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard, from an early age, began performing folk and country songs while at the university.

In the 1960s, he released "Song to Woody," "Blowin' in the Wind," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and more, making him one of the definitive songwriters of the 1960s protest movement.

The 1970s saw Dylan releasing No. 1 hit albums like "Planet Waves," "Blood on the Tracks," and "Desire" before declaring he was a born-again Christian in 1979.

Bob Dylan performing live onstage at the Singers Club Christmas party on December 22, 1962 | Source: Getty Images

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In the 1980s, he began touring full time, won his first Grammy, and got inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Dylan is the first rock star ever to receive Kennedy Center Honors, has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was the first musician to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Bob Dylan performing at Hyde Park on July 12, 2019, in London | Source: Getty Images

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FIRST MARRIAGE TO SARA DYLAN

Dylan and Sara met in 1964 when she was still married to her first husband, and Dylan was dating fellow folk singer Joan Baez.

Within a year of their meeting, they ditched their respective significant others, had a low-key 18-month courtship, and tied the knot on November 22, 1965.

They kept their relationship a secret early into their marriage, and only his closest friends knew about it. Even though Sara was a former model and Playboy bunny, she loved her privacy, and she 'shunned' the spotlight.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan performing during the March on Washington civil rights rally, on August 28, 1963 | Source: Getty Images

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After their marriage, the singer adopted Sara's daughter, Maria, from her previous marriage. Dylan had chosen Sara over Baez because he didn't want to compete with Baez. 

In the early 1970s, when their marriage was under turmoil, Dylan wrote the song "Sara" to woo his wife back, but she eventually filed for divorce on March 1, 1977. They settled the divorce within three months with a multi-million dollar fee.

Bob Dylan and Sara arriving Heathrow Airport on September 2, 1969 | Source: Getty Images

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SECRET MARRIAGE TO HIS BACKUP SINGER

In 1978, Dylan went on a world tour, and Carolyn Dennis joined as his backup singer. Their relationship was professional at first, touring together until it grew intimate, and they eventually married in June 1986.

Dylan managed to keep their relationship and marriage very private, and there weren't many details about them until a biographer revealed it long after their divorce in 1992.

Carolyn Dennis at "The Color Purple" Los Angeles engagement celebration on May 29, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

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Dennis was not the only Black female backup singer Dylan had a relationship with, as he had romantic relationships with most of them at one point or another.

They also steered him towards Christianity. Dylan and Dennis had a mutual agreement to keep their marriage a secret. She said,

"Bob and I made a choice to keep our marriage a private matter for a simple reason — to give our daughter a normal childhood."

Bob Dylan when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 | Source: Getty Images

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The couple took advantage of a law in California that permitted them to seal their marriage certificate from media scrutiny to protect their family's privacy.

After their divorce, Dennis countered the reports about the terms of their settlement. She was furious that a biographer suggested that her settlement forced Dylan to do a lot of tours.

Bob Dylan at the Isle of Wight Festival press conference in London on August 27, 1969 | Source: Getty Images

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A 'WONDERFUL' DAD TO HIS BIRACIAL DAUGHTER, DESIREE

Before their June 1986 wedding, Dennis and Dylan had a daughter, Desiree, born in January 1986. To further protect the privacy of their relationship, they did not list Dylan as her father on her birth certificate.

They also agreed that their daughter could take Dylan's name when she was mature enough to make her own decisions. Desiree opted to take her father's name when she was old enough.

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In an 'unauthorized' biography released in 2001, the author portrayed Dylan as 'hiding' his biracial daughter. On that note, Dennis, who called the claims 'malicious and ridiculous' said,

"That is something he would never do. Bob has been a wonderful, active father to Desiree."

Desiree came out as a lesbian, and in 2013, when she was engaged to marry her partner, she reportedly wasn't sure whether her famous father would attend.

Photo of Bob Dylan in London in 1965 | Source: Getty Images

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Her future mother-in-law, Jolene Sampson, assumed Dylan would not attend the wedding because he is a celebrity but revealed that he is supportive of his daughter.

Desiree met her partner, Kayla Sampson, in January 2007 when she was performing for The Young Americans, a non-profit organization and performing group for young people.

Desiree and her partner tied the knot in June 2014, and on the wedding day, visitors claimed that Dylan was a 'no show' at the ceremony.

Portrait of Bob Dylan in the 1960s | Source: Getty Images

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The guests said they did not mention Dylan's name at the wedding, and Desiree danced with her mother. Some guests believed that fans would have surrounded him if Dylan had shown up.

Desiree is active on social media, but she is also private, like her father. She has kept her relationship out of the public eye.

Bob Dylan performing at the White House | Source: Getty Images

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MEET HIS OTHER KIDS, INCLUDING ADOPTED DAUGHTER

After Dylan adopted Maria, Sara's child, with her ex-husband Hans Lownds, they went on to have four more kids, all of whom have biblical names. Maria married a folk-rock singer-songwriter like her adoptive dad.

Their son, Jesse, was born six weeks after their marriage. He is a film and music video director who has worked with Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, and Barack Obama.

Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers performing on stage at the 2021 Beach Life Music Festival on September 11, 2021 | Source: Getty Images

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After Jesse, they had Anna, Samuel, and Jakob. While there is little information about Anna and Samuel, Jakob gained fame in the mid-1990s as the leader of the rock group, The Wallflowers. The group sold millions more albums than his father did and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.

At 80, Dylan is still going on tour as he recently resumed his "Rough and Rowdy Ways" tour in Arizona, where he dropped the debut of his war song "Crossing the Rubicon."

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