Suze Rotolo, who was Bob Dylan’s girlfriend in the early ’60s and inspired many of the singer-songwriter’s early songs, died Feb. 24 in New York after a long illness. She was 67.
Rotolo was 17 when she met Dylan in 1961, not long after his arrival in New York. The daughter of political activists and a self-described “red diaper baby,” she helped fire Dylan’s developing social consciousness. She famously appeared arm-in-arm with Dylan on a slushy Greenwich Village street on the cover of his breakthrough 1963 album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.”
Dylan crafted several of his early love songs — most of them melancholy — for his young muse. Rotolo is said to have inspired “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” “Boots of Spanish Leather,” “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” and “Ballad in Plain D”; the last song describes an especially heated argument between Dylan, Rotolo and her sister Carla, who did not approve of the relationship.
The couple parted in late 1963. Dylan reminisced about his time with Rotolo in his 2004 book “Chronicles: Volume One,” while Rotolo penned her own memoir “A Freewheelin’ Time” in 2009. She is interviewed in Martin Scorsese’s 2005 doc “No Direction Home.”
Rotolo is survived by husband Enzo Bartoccioli and a son.