by Chris Cooper
OK while last month I attempted to bore you with a huge long list of the cast for Dylan’s masterpiece Renaldo and Clara. This month we sort the anoraks from the crowd. If this is to be an exhaustive look at the film, well you know how it goes, after all, sacrifice is the price of the road….
When I started looking thru the various scenes that make up this epic journey I found myself wondering about many of the cast. It may be that Renaldo and Clara was carefully orchestrated (you guessed it, more on that later) or it may be that it was the product of circumstance, either way the one major difference in this film than many others is that a lot of the players in this film had personal connections with Bob himself. As far as I know, this is a deviation from the norm when it comes to making films. I then started looking up various people to see what connection they had with Dylan and indeed what became of them after this contact. We all know that performing on stage with Dylan seems to have plunged many other artists into immediate obscurity. I leave it to you, the reader, to decide why this is. A few possibilities that occur to me is that (1) Dylan likes to be the main man, and to achieve this he has a predilection for under achievers. Ronnie Scott used to say “you know how to look young? It’s easy, hang around with old people!” This may be so with Bob. If you want to be outstanding then pick under achievers. Of course they will then most likely fade into the background afterwards. You can read that another way (2) and say that he picks these people out in an effort to give them a helping hand. (Personally I don’t believe that is so.) (3) There may be a romantic notion that the obscure and strange appeal to our man and this is why so many are there. OR possibly it’s that he (4) favours the underdog. Whatever the reason many people appear in this film and then vanished from the public eye.
So of course yours truly just had to look them up! Right? So, before we get down to the real nitty gritty stuff here is a breakdown of this unusual rag bag of people, Some of this you may be familiar with, some you may disbelieve ! As far as I have been able to check everything here is made in good faith that it is accurate.
Certainly one of the main players, in Bob’s life as much as the film, obviously the film was certainly in part about Sara. Nee Shirley Noznisky, later Sara Lownds, it is not known when she changed name to Sara. She first met Dylan through their mutual friend Sally Grossman in 1964. They were married 22 November 1965 and divorced July 1977, though they have remained in regular contact since.
Joan Baez was born on January 9, 1941 in Staten Island, New York, the second of three sisters. She involved with the Civil Rights cause and the peace movement, a spokesman for non-violent resistance to and protest against immoral authority, she has refused to pay taxes that go to escalate the war in Vietnam, and has sung at almost every historic demonstration, and fosters a school for non-violent protest in California. Brought Dylan to a larger audience by taking him on tour with her in 63-64. One time Dylan lover, she hadn’t tour with Dylan since then. She later toured with him again in 1984.
Ronnie Hawkins was born in Huntsville, Arkansas, on January 10, 1935, two days after Elvis.
Ronnie Hawkins remains 'Mr. Dynamo', a legend who is credited with bringing rock 'n' roll to Canada, and has had two books written about his life in music. Ronnie has passed the live playing on to his son Robin, who has struck out on his own, playing the Ontario circuit after ten years as a Hawk, and to his daughter Leah, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is pursuing her singing career there. Ronnie, Jr. was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teen and has been living with this terrible disease all these years. Ronnie and Wanda actively raise money for The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario in the hope that, with research, someday a cure will be found...
During the early '70s, country & western artist Ronee Blakely was a favorite singer/songwriter of Bob Dylan and had a fairly successful singing career. In film, she penned a few songs for Welcome Home Soldier (1972). She made a stellar acting debut in 1975 playing Barbara Jean, a tragic, frail singer (alleged to be loosely patterned after Loretta Lynn) who is nearly destroyed by fame in Robert Altman's Nashville. Blakely is said to have written much of the part herself and was so convincing in the role that it won her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She has continued to pursue a career in film, but has since been relegated to leading and supporting roles in low-budget and independent features ranging from Walter Hill's The Driver (1978) and Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) to Someone to Love (1987). In 1985, Blakely directed and starred in the docudrama I Played It for You. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide.
Early influence on Dylan he was a friend of Woody Guthrie’s and sang backing voice on an unreleased recording of Mr. Tambourine Man. Ramblin' Jack Elliot's CD Friends Of Mine contains the song "Bleeker Street Blues", which sums up his relationship with Bob Dylan. In 1998 he won the National Medal of Arts award, presented to him by the President of the US on November 5.
Harry Dean Stanton (b. July 14th, 1926) (a.k.a. Dean Stanton)
Enduringly popular character actor Harry Dean Stanton specializes in playing the lost, the weird, and outcast of society. With his lean body and well-weathered skin stretched over a prominent nose, hollow cheeks, and sensitive deep-set eyes, Stanton looks like he is no stranger to adversity. Raised near Lexington, KY but didn't go anywhere until the '70s when he appeared in several cult movies, including Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and Rancho Deluxe (1975). By the '80s, Stanton had become a supporting actor and was getting larger and increasingly offbeat roles in such films as Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), The Black Marble (1980), and most notably Repo Man, as the fellow who teaches Emilio Estevez to take back cars. His best role has been as a drifter in Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas (1983). But in addition to playing fringe people, the articulate and highly intelligent Stanton also plays more mainstream roles such as Molly Ringwald's over-distracted father in Pretty in Pink (1986). Stanton occasionally plays leading roles in independent films and when not acting has proven himself an excellent singer and musician.
(b 20 Jun '39, Akron OH) Singer, guitarist and songwriter first met Dylan at the Indian Neck Festival in May 1961. He subsequently became Dylan's regular sidekick on his mid-sixties tours. They were reunited on the Rolling Thunder Revues of 1975/6.
Neuwirth is one of those people whose precise role is hard to define; many quiz him about Dylan and fail to see that he is one of those who act as the glue that binds a scene together: sitting in the circle when the guitar is being passed around, his songs are as worthy as those of the company he keeps.
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1940, Mel left university at the age of 20 and became a “bad actor” for a year. Mel returned to Canada where he continued to broadcast on both radio and television. Ben Healy wrote in October 2000 to bring us up to date: “Mel Howard worked for CJOB in Winnipeg quite some time ago. He went back to being a teacher about ten years ago and has recently retired.”
(June 3, 1926 - April 5, 1997)
Perhaps the most noted American poet of the 'beat' generation, he first met Dylan in December 1963 and they have remained friends ever since, recording together in 1971 and 1982. He was also a member of the 1975-6 Rolling Thunder Revue. The relationship between Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan was often portrayed, not least by Ginsberg and Dylan themselves, as a father-and-son relationship. Most notably, in Dylan's film Renaldo and Clara, Ginsberg appears as a fictional character called The Father, and several scenes show him offering religious instruction to Dylan as Renaldo. Of course, these scenes are ironic in many ways: two Jewish poets playing out motifs from Christian theology; the whole joke (a friendly, and entirely non-homophobjoke) of the notoriously gay Ginsberg being portrayed as a progenitor. But beneath the irony there is an entirely serious tribute to the depth and commitment of the friendship between the two.
First signed (by
the legendary Mary Martin), at sixteen, to Warner Bros. Records as
member of "Quacky Duck And His Barnyard Friends". Later signed to Arista
and released three albums (two of which he co-produced with
and Steven Soles) as a member of the critically acclaimed Alpha Band.
A full-time actor, Renaldo and Clara being his eighth film. He has gone on to direct or produce many films including most notably Band Of The Hand.
1979 Americathon - First Assistant Director
In the early 1970s, Helena was the resident belly dancer at The Intersection, a Greek restaurant in North Hollywood. Has been credited with introducing “floor dancing” into belly dancing. Has remained an actress and appeared again with Bob in Catchfire (1989).
Other film roles include:
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a well known African-American boxer that was wrongly accused. Two years after his championship match in June of '66, two men and a woman were shot in Patterson, NJ. Rubin Carter and John Artis were accused of murder and brought in front of the victims. One of the men could not identify them as the criminals, but they went to trial anyway. They were taken off the stand innocent and did not go back to court for a few months. In October of 1996, Alfred P. Bello stated that he saw Carter and Artis at the crime scene. They were sent back to court and were set before an all white jury. The jury convicted them guilty and they were sentenced to three life terms in jail. His nineteen years in jail had pretty much ruined his boxing career, and the only reason was because he was African-American. Rubin Carter's case is a good example of the segregation that was going on. He was an innocent man but still had to spend nineteen years in prison. It is uncertain whether he was accused because he was black, but because of the background of those years, it seems almost definite that the case was an example of segregation.
Previously unknown violinist discovered by Dylan on the streets of Greenwich Village in June 1975, whose sound made such a contribution on the Desire album and Rolling Thunder tours of 1975/6. Scarlet was diagnosed with endometrial cancer at the end of 1998. Everyone involved was convinced that surgery would see the end of it, but devastatingly, after her release from Cedars Sinai hospital, it was discovered that the cancer had spread. A 50-day radiation therapy treatment was immediately instituted. After only 9 days of treatment, Scarlet had a very bad and extremely rare reaction to the radiotherapy. She was consequently re-admitted and put on life-support for a week. Three charitable foundations joined forces to raise money to help pay for Scarlet's treatment and a benefit for Scarlet was held in Hollywood at the Baked Potato on March 7, 1999 to help raise money to cover her medical expenses. Then, on November 14, 1999 Scarlet Rivera was among the performers at The Baked Potato 1999 "Angel Award" ceremony for Alex Ligertwood and Miles Davis.
The crew visited the Dreamaway Lodge in Becket, on Nov. 7, 1975, to meet its owner, the eccentric 79 year old musician-host Maria "Mama" Frasca. Baez struck up a special relationship with Mama in the few hours she spent there"I have the purse she gave me sewn into a cape," said Baez. "My very gifted seamstress sister made it for me. She makes them out of velvet and all of your old scarves and things that you don't need anymore that you want to have forever, like a scarf the Vietnamese gave me at the end of the war. I have a purse the gypsy lady gave me as a pocket in this robe."
Mad Bear was a member of the Bear Clan of the Tuscarora Nation of the Six-Nation Iroquois Confederacy of the United States and Canada. A Native American rights-activist, he was also a medicine man and a leader with great power and influence both among his own people and cross culturally. Mad Bear Anderson walked west in 1985. Rolling Thunder walked west in 1997. They both left huge legacies, and a lot of controversies behind. He died in 1985.
Despite his leadership of seminal folk-rockers the Byrds, he did not record with Dylan until the fall of 1972. Subsequently played on the Pat Garret & Billy the Kid soundtrack album, was a member of the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975-6 and guested with Dylan in 1980, 1987 and 1990.
Of all the Dylan imitators of the folk-rock Sixties, David Blue was distinctly the most outrageous. In the Seventies Blue's obsession with Dylan had dwindled.
David Blue did several albums under that name on the Asylum label. He also did at least one album under the name S. David Cohen on Reprise. The Joni Mitchell song "Blue" is written about him and I've seen explanations of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," that say that that song is also about him. (which I doubt)
1943: 7 Nov, born Roberta Joan Anderson in Ft. McLeod, Alberta, Canada raised in the city of Saskatoon World famous singer-songwriter, Joni joined the Tour towards the end of the 1975 shows.
Manhattan native Rob Stoner (neé Rothstein) graduated from New York City's Columbia College in 1969. His rockabilly band, Rockin' Rob and the Rebels, became headliners on the national night club circuit. In 1975, Bob Dylan hired Rob as his bandleader and opening act for the Rolling Thunder Revue. He played and sang on several Dylan albums, including Desire, Hard Rain, Live at Budokan and Live 1975, while touring with Dylan. Resuming his solo career, Rob released a critically acclaimed solo album of original songs on MCA Records. He also became the first non-Southerner to release an album on Sun Records and continued to tour and record with various acts including his own throughout the nineties. His compositions have been recorded by Johnny Winter, Shirley Bassey, Robert Gordon, and others. Rob has co-written three off-off-Broadway musicals, all of which were staged and produced in New York City. He now lives in New York City and Rockland County, N.Y., where he remains active on the music scene.
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